Pregnant Then Screwed | Joeli Brearley

Summary of: Pregnant Then Screwed
By: Joeli Brearley

Introduction

Enter the world of ‘Pregnant Then Screwed,’ where Joeli Brearley passionately addresses the unjust reality faced by working mothers—a phenomenon known as ‘the motherhood penalty’ or ‘the procreation gap.’ This book sheds light on the numerous challenges and barriers faced by women during pregnancy and motherhood, such as employment discrimination, the gender pay gap, and unrealistic societal expectations. Brearley’s work not only highlights the bitter truth but also shares practical advice and solutions to confront this systemic exclusion and enable women to assert their rights and navigate the trying terrain of motherhood and work.

The Motherhood Penalty

Women without children earn as much as men, but the motherhood penalty—the price of bearing children—leads to a significant reduction in salaries. In the United States and Europe, women earn around 80% and 13% less than men, respectively. Sociologists have termed this phenomenon the motherhood penalty, or the procreation gap, as it engenders disparity in pay between women with and without children. The issue highlights the need for equitable maternity leave and childcare policies to ensure gender equality in the workforce.

Procreation Gap: Challenges Faced by Working Mothers

Working mothers face discrimination and challenges in the workplace despite legal protection, leading to a procreation gap. In her book, Brearley emphasizes that women encounter rampant employment discrimination during pregnancy and motherhood, with 54,000 women losing their jobs each year in the UK alone. Although women have maternity leave and anti-discrimination laws, employers often disregard them. This leaves little recourse for women who are already exhausted by childbirth and raising an infant. Furthermore, a mere 1% of British women who face workplace discrimination related to maternity or pregnancy undertake legal action, with young mothers, those with disabilities, and minority women facing additional challenges.

Fighting Back Against Pregnancy Discrimination

After being fired for being pregnant, Joeli Brearley founded Pregnant Then Screwed to support mothers who’ve faced discrimination. The organization aims to tackle the motherhood penalty and fight for women’s rights. Brearley’s personal experience highlights the difficulties women face when taking legal action against discrimination, but her success in winning a case against the British government for indirect sex discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of standing up for women’s human rights. Through her work with Pregnant Then Screwed and as a member of a UN working group, Brearley continues to advocate for the fair and equal treatment of mothers in the workplace.

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