Pregnancy stereotypes proved wrong with #7monthsawesome

Some of the photos shared with #7monthsawesome.
Some of the photos shared with #7monthsawesome.  Photo: Twitter

When British scientist Dr Samantha Decombel preparing to speak at a conference earlier this year, she was told she couldn't because she was pregnant. 

By posting about her experience on Instagram, she's prompted a conversation about the difficulties pregnant women face in the workplace, Mashable reported

In the caption of a photo of a rejection email from the European Commission, Decombel quotes Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, who says women tend to "leave before they leave". 

Women often feel guilt at juggling the contradictory roles of worker and mother, Decombel wrote, and react by "effectively putting the brakes on their career prospects before they actually need to".

 

Extract of my response to this email from representatives of the @europeancommission withdrawing my invite to speak at a conference on the basis of being 7 months pregnant: "I was invited to speak at this years conference in Brussels as a young female scientist and entrepreneur, who has set up two companies and raised over £1M in funding and grants to support the research around our ideas. As this is an area I am passionate about I agreed to speak and offer my experiences and views. As I am sure you are aware, one of the key hurdles facing many women in science and entrepreneurship is the desire to start a family, and how this will fit in with their career plans. As @sherylsandberg, COO of Facebook, has said in the past, so many women 'leave before they leave' in anticipation of starting a family due to the guilt of juggling these two apparently contradictory options, taking on less responsibility within their role, taking a back seat in key decision-making and effectively putting the brakes on their career prospects before they actually need to, ensuring that on their return to work they are already at a disadvantage. I do not intend to put the brakes on my ambitions until I need to, and would encourage others to consider why we lay this guilt on female researchers that wish to have both a career and a family. Turning away a pregnant speaker, who is in excellent health and has voluntarily agreed to travel to voice her opinions at this event seems to me to be the perfect demonstration of why this is still such an issue for many, and the absolute opposite of what I would hope the European Commission would want to convey. I cannot see what risk my presence at this event would represent for the EC, and hope you will reconsider your decision to withdraw my voice on account of what should be considered a perfectly natural occurance that likely around half of your audience will experience at some stage in their lives. I would hope that they would not be encouraged to 'leave before they leave' on account of having made the choice to start their own family". Disappointingly, I did not receive a reply to this email. #feminism #pregnancyproblems #womeninbusiness

A photo posted by Dr. Samantha Decombel (@samdecombel) on

Decombel's experience resonated with other women, who have been posting their own pregnancy adventures under the hashtag #7monthsawesome. 

From tramping, to teaching Zumba classes, to performing on stage (MIA we love you), women using the tag show that with a healthy pregnancy, you can carry on with normal life. 

However, as some Twitter users pointed out, women with riskier pregnancies have to do what's right for them as well.

"There is never a 'normal' for everyone in a health related situation", @CatherineQ wrote

"I was lucky and had an uncomplicated pregnancy, not all women do", @LKluber said.

"Let's let women and their doctors decide what is best for them".