Caroline Gatrell (Management School, Lancaster University)
I demonstrate how negative responses to pregnancy by employers may pressure pregnant women to conceal leakage of any kind. The physical symptoms of pregnancy - tiredness, nausea, vomiting, expanding waistlines, the threat of leaky breasts and breaking waters - must be rendered invisible within workplace space: literally kept 'off-stage'. Pregnant employees are encouraged and/or compelled to conceal their pregnant state by presenting at all times a body which appears 'healthy' and 'reliable' thereby rendering pregnancy invisible.
The experiences of pregnant women in my study indicate that the abjuration of pregnancy at work can reach the point where the basic human needs of pregnant women are ignored. The resulting denial of fundamental health requirements of pregnant employees (such as eating lunch) would seem likely to invoke illness even among non-pregnant workers. Thus, employers' fearful prophecies that pregnant bodies may be prone to poor health and failure would seem to be, at the same time, self-fulfilling and self-imposed. If pregnant women are refused permission to eat, work flexibly and attend health appointments, it seems unsurprising that some do become ill, and require time away from work as a result.
My research findings suggest the need to place the pregnant body at the forefront of management scholarship, as a legitimate topic for study. In the context of both management theory and management practices, it is time for the pregnant body to be positioned in a positive spotlight: centre stage.
My intellectual project focuses around the maternal body and I am engaged in examining changes, and changing relationships, in the context family practices, motherhood, fatherhood and paid/unpaid work. I am developing new work on Management and the (im)possibility of the maternal body, parenting and paid work and the sociology of the management of childbirth.
All welcome. No registration required.
Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum