Nino Andriadze, 38, Tbilisi

“One of the most significant hurdles in the career path of a woman is her pregnancy and zero tolerance to her pregnancy at work. Ineffectiveness caused by a probable maternity leave is the label that the employer can stick on any woman and question her usefulness. At times like this, a woman’s sense of safety equals zero. Of course, nobody is going to tell you in your face, but you can feel that you have become a second-rate employee for having preferred your private life over corporate dedication, and for failing to “set a good example” for others. Here is one interesting case: my coworker’s boss, the head of HR department, banned her from revealing at work that she was expecting a baby. We learned about it rather late when it could not be hidden any longer. I just cannot explain the reason behind the boss’s behavior. It is because of such lack of safety that expectant moms rarely take maternity leave until close to their due date so that they can stay on the company’s radar. Similarly, to prove that I am an ‘honorable employee’ and my pregnancy will not affect my professionalism, I kept working long hours. In recent years, I have become used to almost never leaving the office in daytime, and during my pregnancy, I tried harder to do the day’s work. I was afraid they might think that “I was not in the shape”, I was unproductive, couldn’t work as I used to and they would try to get rid of me. The most memorable day was when I, in the sixth month of pregnancy, was sent on a business trip abroad. At 11:00 p. m. I was reviewing a presentation with one hand, talking on the phone and, with the other hand, injecting Clexane (my doctor prescribed it) in my stomach. Most of my acquaintances returning to work after pregnancy, find their status changed or get demoted or do not go back to work at all. I can see why. In the extremely competitive working environment in corporations, a lot may change in the 4-5 months’ time and if you take time out, they think you will never catch up. The whole culture is flawed with the stereotype that if you choose to become a mother, you will be mediocre in other areas of your life. Unfortunately, I have often heard even from women that pregnant women are second-rate employees.”