Conversations you’re not ready to have: Pregnant or Promoted?

Everyone knows the saying “between a rock and a hard place” to mean facing two equally difficult alternatives that are both meaningful and important to someone. With women, however, it should really be called “between a pregnancy and a promotion”. Whenever we hear these two words, society tells us never to put them in a sentence together because it does not make any sense. A pregnant woman being promoted? Rarely ever heard that before. But the again, we never heard about women’s rights to vote until 1920 or forbidden pregnancy discrimination act until 1978 so we believe the world is constantly changing and women will continue to fight for what is fair and right.

Many corporations robbed talented women of the chance to contribute and grow in their career because they became a mom as companies consider that a distraction rather than accepting the new normal — pregnant CEO. There have been too many stories of women being treated unfairly after they gave birth and returned to the workforce and the unfriendly attitudes come from all sources — managers, male and female colleagues. They were neglected from important meetings, they were always under scrutiny about the timing they came and left the office, they were given snide comments or conversations that end with “cause you’re a mom now”, they were passed on for promised promotions right after they were ensured of the position, etc.

These stories not only happen with current employees, but also when companies recruit new people. Managers are reluctant to hire pregnant women despite how great a candidate that person is because they do not agree with her wishes for a flexible maternity leave.

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According to executive coaches, recruiters, and their employers, women often gain new managing positions by ensuring that their exceptional records and work devotion aren’t called into doubt. These female executives say they work hard to minimize the impact of their absence, and the companies involved argue that parenting must occasionally take first. However, what corporations fail to realize is that ambitious women will continue to pursue better jobs while pregnant because it is getting easier and better everyday with the assistance of technology, financial security and many other services. It is rather their ability to manage child birth, child care and a whole career that makes these women more motivated than ever as they become more flexible and adaptable under any circumstances or situations. More and more female CEOS are proving this right as they make “Pregnant women get promoted” make more sense than ever.

First and foremost, take pregnant CEO Marissa Mayer for example. She was a 37-year-old Stanford alumni who got promoted as the new CEO of Yahoo! after her time at Google while being pregnant. She became the 20th current female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She ran the company from 2012 to 2017 when Verizon purchased Yahoo! For $4.8 billion. She then started her own company and devoted to community service.

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Another successful pregnant CEO is Kaite Beauchamp who co-founded Birchbox in 2010 while studying at Harvard. She received the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Award in recognition of her achievements in beauty but that’s not her only claim to fame. She has four children and takes great pride in continuing to work throughout her pregnancies. In fact, she says that pregnancy gives her more reasons to be ambitious. She fondly remembers being pregnant with twins in 2014 while fundraising capital. She again got pregnant in 2017 and continued to work from the hospital. However, what deserves the most attention is her 2018 pregnancy that left her bedridden. She held meetings in the hospital and was live on video chat to stay in touch with staff members and clients. Her company achieved a major milestone during this time when they closed a big deal with Walgreens while pregnant.

The third example is Alarice Lonergan, an International Business Machines Corp. executive, who won a promotion shortly before the birth of her two daughters. She initially advanced to associate partner of IBM’s management consulting unit in 2015. IBM elevated Ms. Lonergan again last year — this time to partner. Her promotion took effect three months before she took off 18 weeks to have her younger daughter. Now pregnant again, she would consider another promotion before her son arrives this November.

Next, we also have Kayti Sullivan, a senior vice president and general manager at Yelp Inc. who put her hand up to be in charge of its sales and operational teams two months before she gave birth in late February. “Being promoted during my latest pregnancy certainly felt like a nonissue,” she says. Ms. Sullivan says she sought the broader position because she aspires to be a chief operating officer or CEO someday. Her 14-week parental leave ended in June, she says, adding, “I didn’t miss a beat.” (interviewed by the WSJ)

As female CEOs are inspired more everyday to keep up with work while also bearing the magical gift of life, here are a few tips from pregnant CEOs from different fields that could help you ease into the process:

Don’t believe what they said

Childbirth strengthens the area in your frontal cortex that governs executive function; important stuff such as planning, problem solving, verbal reasoning, and multi-tasking.

Babies are simpler to manage than huge corporations

Healthy babies have precious few variables: food, sleep, diaper, boredom, and that’s about it. You’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

Don’t take less than 6 weeks off

Your brain may be ready to get back to work, but your body needs time to shrink your uterus and get back into fighting form. It just takes time.

Take the baby to the office

This allows you the chance to work while also taking care of the babies with the help of others. It can also be a change of scenery and a chance to adapt and explore new environments for your baby.

Keep your priorities straight

Step back regularly and see if in the grander scheme of things, you are being true to both roles. If you’re able to do this, the math will work out for both sides in the long run.

The truth is, as the world progresses, pregnant CEOs are proving that: women can and deserve to have it all, women can do the work of a CEO just as well or even better even when they are pregnant and after that, and last but not least, corporations need to reconsider their terms and conditions regarding treatment toward pregnant employees and managers.

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Having said that, this issue demands not only changes from corporations but also in people’s mindset, both male and female, to stand up for the mothers who are dedicating both to their career and their children. They are the ones who are stronger, more compatible, more understanding, and more flexible than we are. They are leading their employees and their companies into great success while also nurturing and growing their babies to become the future of the world. They are the ones who need the recognition, influence, and promotion that they deserve because they have dedicated their heart and brain into every aspect of their lives.

So pregnant or promoted? No thanks. Pregnant and promoted.


Hein, B. (2012, September 18). How to be Pregnant and CEO: 5 Tips.

Lublin, J. S. (2019, July 10). When Pregnancies and Bigger Jobs Go Hand in Hand. The Wall Street Journal.

Godfrey, N. (2016, April 29). The Pregnant Executive: From Here To Maternity. Forbes.

Garber, M. (2012, July 17). ‘A Pregnant CEO: In Whose Lifetime?’. The Atlantic.

Ceri, S. (2020, February 18). Pregnant and CEO? Four Drunk Parrots | SEO | Web Design | Marketing Strategy | Byron Bay.

The JobHopin team