A Moment of Truth

By: Naama Bar On Shmilovitch  

Being first-time pregnant at work and not telling about it means intentional concealment of the newly emerging maternal identity to be accumulated over the familiar, professional one. Research shows pregnant employees tend to keep their secret for as long as possible, lest they be perceived as undermining the "recognized order" in the workplace. Recently, scholars have begun to explore the experience of pregnancy in the workplace, focusing mostly on the circumstances after a pregnancy has been disclosed. Pregnancy disclosure represents a turning point of a transformative significance in a woman’s working life, as well as a test for her manager and a moment of truth for their relations. Yet, this unique act of pregnancy disclosure has hardly been addressed in research. The current study sheds light on this lack. Placing the disclosure at its center, this study aims to unpack the complexities surrounding this act for both pregnant employees and their managers. Data for this study was derived from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 15 first-time pregnant employees and 15 managers of large organizations and small businesses. Similarities between the act of disclosure that publicizes maternal identity and the process of "coming out of the closet" that informs of sexual orientation are noticeable. Analyzing this unstudied constituency enhances the rising research of pregnancy at work and adds to the study of secrets in organizations.

Identity Pregnancy Disclosure
Identity and Belonging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Naama Bar On Shmilovitch

PhD student, Human Services, University of Haifa, Israel