update: my boss said she doesn’t think mothers can fully commit to their jobs

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose boss said she doesn’t think mothers can fully commit to their jobs? Here’s the update.

I first ended up talking with my coworker who is a father to see if there was any difference between our experiences – I disguised it as me asking if he knew of any good childcare facilities. He said he didn’t have any recommendations as his wife is a stay at home mom – so his child being in the house with his wife is okay but my husband isn’t proper childcare? Now I was mad.

My manager and I had another 1:1 (our company requires these monthly). She asked me again about my childcare situation and I replied that I wasn’t comfortable sharing this with her. She said she wanted to remind me that it’s against company policy to have my child in the home if I’m working from home and I need to provide proof of childcare once we return to the office (this isn’t true and just an asinine lie to make up?). My response to this was she needed to give me this direction in an email – which of course she didn’t as she knew what she was saying was false.

Anyway, as you can imagine things were awkward and intense for a little bit. I ended up going to her director and explaining the situation and how I no longer felt comfortable under this manager. The director was horrified. Thankfully, I was moved to a new team. My old manager is still with the company, though I’ve heard some rumors of her making rude comments to one of her employees who has recently announced she’s pregnant so maybe that won’t be the case for long.

I’ve learned a lot throughout this experience that I’d like to share with any other working moms or future moms out there because I genuinely wish someone had told me these things before.

1. Other moms may not be understanding – I saw a lot of speculation in the comments about if my manager had children. She does have adult children and she was a single mom, which I believe is why I felt comfortable talking about my childcare with her. I figured she would have been understanding. I was wrong.

2. Ask around before agreeing to a transfer -this one seems obvious but I was naive and had never had an issue like this so I failed to do this. After speaking with former employees of this manager, she apparently has a reputation for not being very empathetic to mothers. Had I known this I wouldn’t have agreed to transfer.

3. The difference between how moms and dads are viewed in the workplace – I feel like this is a known fact but it’s hard to understand unless you experience it. My husband’s experience with his boss has been completely different. From now on I plan to keep the information I share about my child to an absolute minimum. Never again will I share my childcare situation with a coworker or boss because no matter what the answer is, people will make judgements. Again, this is just my experience but there is a lot of data out there about how moms and dads are viewed in the workplace if you are curious.

4. Get it in writing – I knew this before but this experience reinforced this. I’ll never have another 1:1 with a manager without sending a follow-up email summarizing what was said afterwards.

I apologize if these points seem obvious – looking back on the experience, I am kicking myself for not being more cautious about what I shared with my former manager.

And yes – I am looking for another job because this manager still being employed by the company has made me question everything. And to the comments advising that I should quit and stay home – this isn’t realistic in this economy, at least not where I live.

{ 186 comments… read them below }

  1. Juicebox Hero*

    “I apologize if these points seem obvious – looking back on the experience, I am kicking myself for not being more cautious about what I shared with my former manager.”

    Please don’t :) Whatever her reason for being so awful is, it isn’t your fault and you had no way of knowing ahead of time what kind of person she is.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, I don’t think you should beat yourself up for this at all, OP. It’s all your former boss’ fault how she reacted to the situation and any normal boss would hear “OP’s spouse is taking care of the kid while OP is working so everything is fine” from what you told your old boss. Having kids is so omnipresent in the world* that talking about them and childcare is absolutely normal and nothing to be wary and cautious about. If you already knew how your boss was going to react, then maaaaaybe that would warrant caution, but even then it’s still 100% on your boss that she reacted this ridiculously.

      *Not that everyone HAS kids, I just mean having kids is something that so many people do it’s not something to hide/be cautious about discussing. I myself don’t have kids, so I know not everyone has kids. :-)

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        Yeah, this is a “Had I but known” where there was no way you could have known that your boss might think that way. OP, you’re not to blame.

    2. Generic Name*

      I came here to say just this. Don’t kick yourself for assuming that your boss is a normal and reasonable person. Most people don’t need a paper trail after a normal 1:1 and most people aren’t penalized for having reasonable childcare arrangements. And it’s also normal to bring up daycare/stay at home parent/grandparent childcare arrangements in conversations with coworkers. You did absolutely nothing wrong, and it’s your former manager who is the problem.

      1. MountainAir*

        This, exactly. I cannot imagine how exhausting it would be to feel like you had to document every single interaction with a manager; that’s just not normal, I don’t think. This one manager behaving in such a way that OP needed extraordinary measures to protect herself doesn’t mean we should all think this is normal in the workplace!

        I’m so sorry, OP. I am just flabbergasted, even though I’m a working mom myself and objectively know the reality.

    3. Not Your Sweetheart*

      Exactly. They are only obvious now because you had the experience you did. “Hind-sight is 20/20” is a cliche for a reason. Please don’t beat your self up over this. You did what you thought was best with the information you had at the time – you didn’t know your manager was awful!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I equate it roughly to the LW whose boss’s ex started dating her to get back at the boss–who thinks of that as a possibility among rational adults?

      I don’t know what this manager’s story is or how she developed this weird obsession, but it’s not naive to start a professional relationship assuming that your manager isn’t a bananapants wearing anti-kid existing person.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      No need to apologize or kick yourself for approaching the situation assuming someone would not be an asshole.

    6. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

      LW, allow me to join the chorus singing “Please don’t take the blame for your former manager’s decision to discriminate against you.” I think you’re wise to conclude that you should be careful about how much you share going forward, but that in no way makes this your fault. You deserve (*everyone* deserves) to be able to make mistakes without being abused.

    7. Orora*

      OP, your boss was discriminating against you because of your gender — she held you to different standards than she did men. That’s Illegal (capital I intended). This is solely about her illegal, unethical and quite frankly abhorrent behavior, not about your actions. Do not blame yourself. Put blame where it belongs — on your boss and on the systems that allow her to get away with it.

    8. EtTuBananas*

      This was my first thought as well. OP didn’t make anything I’d consider a mistake or even a misstep – how was (presumably) she to know her manager would have such a vile reaction?

  2. B*

    So sorry you dealt with this and good for you for advocating for yourself and getting into at least a slightly better situation.

    Some of the most vociferous opponents of work-life improvements in my workplace have come from women, including single moms, who made big sacrifices to make their careers work in a more hostile environment years ago. I get it, psychologically, but it really is too bad.

    1. Observer*

      who made big sacrifices to make their careers work in a more hostile environment years ago. I get it, psychologically, but it really is too bad

      I really don’t get it. I know too many people who went through all sorts of stuff, and as a result decided to do something about it. They wanted to make sure that no one should have to go through what they went through. And I also know a lot of people who didn’t take that step, but yet are genuinely *glad* and supportive of changes that make life easier or better for others. “I suffered so therefore you should” is not universal by any means, and not even all that healthy or functional for the person with that attitude.

      1. Ashley*

        I generally find there are two schools of thought with people for this kind of thing. It is either I had to suffer so you must, or I never want anyone to suffer like I did so I am going to work to change it. (Though you also have the do nothing and not make waves option as well.)
        Personally I never loved I had to suffer so you must thinking, but hopefully we improve with each passing generation and more and more people work to make things better for all.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yup, this^. I am not a fan of the “I suffered so you should too” crowd either. It does explain this boss’ behavior though.

        2. Cinnamon Boo*

          Yeah, I actively change the way I parent, act like a boss, and be a friend based on bad experiences I have had to try and be a better person. I will never understand people who do the opposite.

        3. Gumby*

          I’d like to propose a third line of thought which is: I went through that, it didn’t actually seem that bad, so I don’t get what the big deal is.

          We say all the time that being in a terrible workplace warps your norms and you might not even notice. That happens more broadly too. (Ask me about how my past as a gymnast altered my perception of injury that should be treated by a medical professional vs. what should be taped up and worked through.)

          1. Parakeet*

            Yep – and a variation on this is “I went through that and am having a hard time with processing that actually that was pretty messed up. If I fully processed it, I might feel grief about how I was treated and what I might have lost or given up because of it, which is overwhelming. And someone else treating it as obviously messed up is activating the part of my brain that is struggling with or blocking this.”

            1. myfanwy*

              Yes, this is it for some – a reflexive steering away from discomfort. They need the past to have been OK, so if you’re acting like it should have been better, you’re the problem.

          2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Or “Going through this made me stronger”/”This is just a right of passage, it binds us all together”. It is a less resentful variant of “I suffered so you should” that allows the “and it really isn’t so bad” element to come through.

            Seriously, I think you are dead on with the gymnastics comparison. Some people see open discrimination as some version of physical exercise where pushing through pain is a sign of strength and ability rather than a toxic system that needs you to believe in that concept to keep people from standing up against it.

            Everyone: be more like Simone Biles in Tokyo.

      2. Mango Freak*

        Y’all, “I get it psychologically” doesn’t mean “I endorse it.” It’s a neutral thing to say you literally understand the psychological processes behind something.

        1. Observer*

          I get that. But the truth is that I really do not understand it either.

          I do (intellectually) understand a lot of things I disagree with or even find repugnant. This is just something I don’t understand. I don’t see how you get from here to there.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat*

            At its base, it’s a little kid throwing a tantrum saying “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”, I’d say.

    2. okay*

      Unfortunately this attitude of woman vs woman has not changed over the years. I graduated college over 45 years ago with a degree in Civil engineering. I was 1 of 4 women out of 118 graduates in my department that year. I had had a conversation with a female student from another engineering department that included her telling me that she wouldn’t help another women because no one had helped her. All I could think was that was very short sighted. How do you make things better if you don’t help each other?

      1. Jojo77*

        There’s a terrible nonfiction book that I will not name about being a STEM lady. The author talks about being disappointed because ~40 years after she went to [prestegious college] for [science program] she learned that a couple of girls from her hometown were applying to the same program so now she wouldn’t be the only one.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I don’t think this is that uncommon, unfortunately; there are some women who have made inroads into the “boy’s club” and have a lot of pride and identity wrapped up in that, so when they see other women coming in they view it as threatening, sometimes not on a conscious level; they worry they won’t be special anymore.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Ooof. If I were the first anything and 40 years passed (heck 5 years passed) and there were still no one else, I’d be annoyed at the state of the world, not clinging to my special status.

          1. Jojo77*

            My response at the time (read this with a bookclub) was that you don’t get to consider yourself a trailblazer if you regret seeing others follow you.

        3. Ally McBeal*

          A phrase I’ve read is “breaking the glass ceiling and then pulling the ladder up behind you.” It’s disgusting behavior on par with the feminists who are extremely vocal about how poorly they view the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Capitalist and patriarchal systems are designed to divide and conquer us; the only solution is helping and supporting each other.

        4. RPM*

          I know exactly what book you’re talking about. It’s marketed as a book that provides a road map forward, so as a STEM lady in the same field as the author I read it with high hopes. Wow, was I disappointed. Except she would think I was a failure because I did my PhD in one of the subfields with more women in it, which she explicitly called out as being a lesser subfield and now I work in industry, so I’m a sell out.

      2. Typing All The Time*

        I had something similar involving older work females colleagues. They were mean girls and one of them always tried to make me look bad on the job. She came from rough circumstances and had issues with women who were the opposite. She got let go from our company my final year there. I left and got the same job that she interviewed for. She apparently contacted my new employer about me and said I was this, that and the other.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        My dad did a career development discussion with women at his place of work in the 1980s. I was horrified that he told me that he told the female employees that their biggest obstacle to progressing was other women. I was a teen at the time, and already quite the feminist.

        I was about to rip up one side of my dad and down the other, when he explained that while management at the company would have liked to promote some women, every time they did, other female employees acted as if the promoted woman had betrayed the tribe, female EAs wouldn’t work with them, and other women wouldn’t take them seriously in the role.

        Anyway, Dad is not one to pull punches, and he told them flat out that a rising tide floats all boats, and that they had to start supporting other women, if they wanted to be supported themselves.

        He then acknowledged that there were plenty of other reasons women faced discrimination and lack of opportunities, but that was one that most people were afraid to tackle, so he did.

        I was somewhat stunned, being a naive teenager.

        My experience has been much better, so I hope that – generally speaking – the message has gotten through that women have to support one another. You do run into the occasional individual who didn’t get the memo, though. Depending on the barriers to entry for the profession you’re in, I’m guessing you run into this more with some professions than others.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          My Aunt, who would have been joining the workforce in the early ’80s, talks about how terribly the senior women treated her and the rest of the women around her age when she started. She’s not the most socially aware person so I don’t think she would have done this by nature, but as she grew in her career she made a point to mentor as many up and coming women as she could, because she wasn’t going to let the cycle continue. A rising tide lifts all boats!

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        A young girl in STEM that I know told me that at our university women were all assigned young students to mentor, a kind of forced solidarity.
        It had the effect that the women didn’t have time to do other stuff that men were free to do. And of course the mentoring wasn’t paid.

    3. Change name for today*

      I would rephrase this as a broader American response beyond work/life. I suffered so you must too.

      I like to hope that each generation buys into that mentality less and less.

    4. Workerbee*

      I get it, too (and agree how it is too bad).

      For skeptical folks who don’t know why/don’t think it happens, this kind of thinking is pervasive through all stages of life. One of the earliest examples I can offer is my experience going into middle school (6th through 8th grade here). We were told going in that the 8th graders would pick on the 6th graders, because the now-8th graders had been picked on when _they_ were 6th graders.

      Even then it made no sense – we lowly 6th graders hadn’t been the ones picking on anyone, we just got there – but it’s easier not to think for some folks, evidently.

      1. B*

        The thing about making people “pay their dues” is — sometimes you do have to pay your dues!! You can’t get good at something sophisticated without learning how to do all the component pieces, even if it’s tedious and boring. But good leaders, and colleagues, and mentors actively eliminate the unnecessary hurdles they had to clear so that people coming up behind them can focus on the important things. When you insist on everyone suffering like you did, you not only inflict unnecessary harm on people but you also teach people they can’t trust you to distinguish what’s important and what isn’t.

        1. M2RB*

          Or worse, instead of removing an obstacle/roadblock that can be removed, they build it higher, make it more onerous, make it more difficult to overcome, instead of smoothing out the path to learning.

          “No one showed me how changing fonts/formatting could help my dyslexia, so instead of letting my team use the new dyslexic-friendly fonts, I am explicitly requiring an unfriendly/inaccessible font” would be a sample of this perspective.

          Or “No one helped me pay my way through school, so not only do I oppose student loan forgiveness, I think they should have credit-card-level interest rates” would be another sample.

          Now I need to go do some deep breathing because thought processes like that make me want to burn it all down!

      2. JustaTech*

        Yes! There’s a Tom Lehrer song about a vice president (Hubert Humphry, VP to LBJ) about what a terrible, lonely and boring job VP is, and includes the line “I’ll do unto you as they did unto me!” (Because LBJ had been VP and knew what a crummy job it was.)

        So it’s (sadly) not a new way of thinking, and applies to every level of society. (Another example would be the terrible way the Georgian kings treated their kids. Generations of misery.)

      3. Nightengale*

        I feel like a major defining moment in my life occurred when I experienced this in elementary school, vowed that I would never perpetuate it when I got older, and then stuck with that promise to myself. It would be a really interesting thing to study, what innate traits or experiences cause some people choose the path of stopping that cycle vs those who choose to continue it.

    5. turquoisecow*

      Yeah, there was a woman posting here a few weeks ago wondering why mothers didn’t want to pump in the bathroom or the car, since that’s how she did it back in the day.

      I read something recently about how there’s two kinds of people in the world, those who think “you should go through crap because I did” and those who think “I went through crap and it sucked and I’d like to prevent other people from experiencing that.” Definitely moms are not exempt from thinking like the first one.

    6. Spero*

      I’ve seen this referred to as the ladder response – if you had to build your own ladder to get where you are now, did you pull the ladder up after yourself or did you spend your time at the top replacing the ladder you built with stairs?

  3. Slacker*

    Here’s the view of a mother who was able to stay home with her young child and not work an outside job: I SO ADMIRE women who can work while raising children!! I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. I missed my job and went back to work when my kid was a teenager. It’s hard enough raising kids or working, but to do both at the same time is incredibly hard!!!

    1. Lilo*

      I just want to say, I had a toddler during COVID, my daycare shut down. And it was tough but I pulled it off. I was lucky to have flexible hours and a kid who napped. but I’d say millions of parents have done it.

    2. allathian*

      I was grateful to live in a country where long maternity/parental leave is so standard that it’s almost impossible to find daycare for kids younger than 9 months. Daycare is very cheap by American standards, we’re talking hundreds rather than thousands per month, but pretty much the only option for babies younger than 9 months is expensive at-home care. I’m very, very, very grateful that I didn’t have to work until my son was sleeping through the night, every night unless he was sick, or for that matter, pump at work.

      That said, by the time my son was 2, I was very happy to go back to work. Just going to the bathroom alone or being able to eat lunch in peace felt like such luxuries when I went back. Not to mention spending time with adults who saw me as something other than just a wife and mother.

  4. Bookworm*

    While I’m glad you were moved to another team, it’s gross the manager is still there. I’m sorry you went through all of that, but thanks for the update.

    1. Observer*

      it’s gross the manager is still there

      This x 1,000

      And it’s why I think the OP is completely correct to be looking for a new job.

      The company is not handling it well. And I hope it comes back to bite them.

    2. Badger*

      I would caution that time will tell. Speaking as a former manager, some processes take time, but in a company (as opposed to government) it should certainly not take more than a year.
      Even if things were put in motion right after OP spoke to the director, OP would not know because updating OP about it would constitute HR/that manager’s manager mishandling an HR issue.

      I think looking for other work is a smart idea. It is telling that the former manager is known for these attitudes and still working there. But from the outside it is simply not possible to tell if and what OP’s company is doing about it.

      1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

        OP wasn’t the first to run into ex-manager’s anti-mother bias, and since the company didn’t do anything about her the previous times, OP won’t be the last either.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My question is if others who were experiencing problems under that manager were explicit about what was going on, or if they called the transfer request/new job some other innocuous reason for moving on?

          We’ve sadly all seen folks get away with loads of crud for long periods of time because others are scared to point out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.

          1. Candi*

            Right. It’s the difference between a general rumor/reputation that never really reaches the upper levels’ ears, and someone explicitly pointing out this is an ongoing, systemic, and very harmful bias and the manager shows no signs of wanting to change their bias.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              Yes, I think this is how it happens, at times, too. There is rumor, but no official complaints, etc. Just chit-chat with peers. Escalating is how the wheels are set in motion most of the time.

              We’ve had a couple bad eggs in my company and it took someone taking it to someone who could do something about it – not just talking to peers – to get something done. In both cases 20 year managers were fired for inappropriate behavior that was similar to what was described here.

              1. M2RB*

                Can confirm; at a prior job, HR knew that the manager I reported to was the problem, but nobody who quit because of her would TELL HR or put it in writing. I did both: was clear in my exit interview with HR AND put it in writing in my exit interview paperwork. She was gone within a year after I left because they finally had documentation; there was one more incident/complaint after me and that was enough to get her out.

    3. MassMatt*

      It’s gross that the manager is still there–I mean, she opened the company up to legal liability! But given the 2nd manager isn’t supportive of working moms either, it seems as though this is a systemic workplace issue vs: a single bad apple. I mean, the director the LW approached was evidently horrified and then… did nothing to address it except move the “complainer”?

      1. Keyboard Cowboy*

        I’m missing where the second manager wasn’t supportive either. I believe you! I just want to know what I missed reading in my morning-allergy haze.

        1. Candi*

          Nearest I can figure is the third paragraph where LW is moved to a new team, but LW still talks about the old manager. A misreading might make it seem the comments came from the new team’s manager, not the old one.

          1. JustaTech*

            I thought that the “transfer manager” was the anti-mom manager, since the LW transferred into the anti-mom manager’s team, rather than the manager of the LW’s new team.

          2. al*

            You are misreading. The “new manager” referred to in #2 is the LW’s now-old manager, who was anti-mother and the subject of the first letter. The LW’s point there is that if she had checked into the manager to begin with, she wouldn’t have taken the transfer (thus, she wouldn’t have been subject to that manager’s horrible bias and not needed to write to AAM).

          3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            OP meant that she should have checked this out before she transferred to the anti-mother manager in the first place. She feels she did not ask enough questions and that if she had, she might have heard a bit about the anti-mother toxicity demonstrated by the manager.

            She was not commenting on her new current manager.

    4. Cat Tree*

      The manager is really putting the company at risk of a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit that would be a slam-dunk for the employee to win with a competent attorney. Even if the company is uncaring, they should look out for their own financial interests and get rid of this manager.

      1. Discrimination Buddy*

        As someone who went through pregnancy discrimination pretty recently – no lawyer wanted to touch my case even, sadly. I’m fine and just quit to go to a much better place that paid close to double. But my husband and I were both stunned at my boss saying I wasn’t promoted because I had a family to focus on – just so blatant.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I’m more horrified that the company didn’t require the manager to do diversity training or something like that – there’s an education opportunity here, and undoubtedly, the manager has value to the company. How much more value would the manager have if they were able to expand their perspective?

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It is certainly concerning that whatever the company did, the manager still feels safe harassing a pregnant employee so soon after they learned of OP’s situation and got her transferred away. They seem to be approaching things from a “let’s move all female parents and pregnant employees to different departments” philosophy than a “let’s take measures to make sure manager corrects this behavior or let’s terminate her” philosophy. And that is still a problem, as it leads to ongoing discrimination and potentially keeping female employees from job opportunities based on illegal factors.

  5. Addison DeWitt*

    “Other moms may not be understanding”

    Other women! My wife was at a law firm, and when she got pregnant, she quickly found that there was a group of women, a few years older, who had made the sacrifice of not having a family or even, honestly, a life of their own, in order to make partner and seem as tough as male partners (who of course had stay at home wives). You might think these people would be supportive of a younger woman trying to balance work and motherhood.

    You would be wrong.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have nothing but admiration for how hard many women worked to hold their own in a corporate society that was intent on making them fail. I know it, I see it, I respect it. But it’s bred this “you should suffer like I suffered” mentality from women who were once “breaking glass ceilings so the younger generation wouldn’t have to”. I understand, but it’s also so counterproductive.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Agreed, it kinda defeats the purpose of breaking the glass ceiling. Oh you have to sacrifice and give up everything just like I did. Nothing about making it easier for the women who came behind.

        1. Jaydee*

          It’s almost like they broke the glass ceiling and then pulled up their ladder and rebuilt the ceiling behind themselves.

    2. notscarlettohara*

      Yes, other women can definitely be incredibly sexist. I also wonder tho if part of it comes from a bit of reverse sexism – like, men obviously can’t care for children, so if OP says her husband’s watching the kid, clearly he’s just watching TV while she actually deals with anything that comes up.

      My boyfriend (now husband) moved in with me when I started professional school, and I got lots well-meaning but ridiculous advice from older female relatives that that was a bad idea because I’d be too tired after school all day and then studying to cook and clean for him. Which, lol.

        1. Snow Globe*

          I think they were saying to pursue your dreams, and in order to accomplish that, don’t move in with this man who will obviously derail your dreams.

          Not actually helpful, but probably, sadly, rooted in personal experience.

          1. notscarlettohara*

            Yes, it was this. Go to school, but don’t bring boyfriend with you because men are pathetic children who need to be cared for 24/7. They could not compute that I would simply…not do that.

            And yes, that was their life experience. My father, sound in both mind and body, literally cannot feed himself when my mother is gone. 100% of meals are eaten at restaurants. (Yes, he is extremely sexist. No, we don’t talk much.)

            1. myfanwy*

              I know women my age who think I’m unreasonable for ‘only’ doing laundry for myself and the kids, and letting my husband worry about his own clean underwear. We both work, too.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                My sister (M) does this, and everyone I know thinks she is awesome for laying down this boundary. It seems more than reasonable to me.

                My other sister (J) is a champion because she just doesn’t do whatever chores or mental load, because she doesn’t care about things being tidy or just so. Unless it is about her daughter, she just doesn’t care about dishes in the sink or whatever. So my brother in law on that side of the family does an equal amount of the mental load and chores, in some cases more, because he has learned that if he wants things done, J isn’t going to do them for him! But I realize that would never work for M, because it would bother her too much if things did not get done.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Please, please don’t assume that not having kids is a “sacrifice” for people who prioritize their careers, or that the women you speak of were aiming to “seem” as tough as the male partners. Consider, maybe, that that some women don’t WANT to have kids, and that women ARE as tough as men… you know, consider that women are people, just like men are people? And there are multitudes of examples in the world of people not being understanding of situations they haven’t faced themselves.

      1. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        Just as mother’s can be part of the group of women that hold up sexist tropes against women in the workplace, so can women without children. However, they can also be allies and coming from the position of pitting them against one another isn’t helpful.

        Workplaces that are supportive of mothers, often have the infrastructure and systems to be supportive of childless women (and others) who can find themselves taking on additional care duties for aging parents, partners or their own health challenges. Essentially any workplace that is set up to see the “whole person” at work not being about you talking about everything that happens in your personal life over lunch, but rather someone who over time will need flexibility and support to manage other things in your life while not wanting to significantly delay advancement professionally. So, finding ways to still take on relevant and career advancing work, while acknowledging there might be some limitations or accommodations needed (around travel, hours available, time needed for business hour appointments, etc.).

      2. Whale Shark*

        I think the “seem” is actually really important when talking about gender bias in the workplace. The underlying issue is almost always optics.

        For women, being “as tough as men” is often insufficient. If they don’t *seem* as tough, they’ll often be overlooked.

        Or in the case of OP, their husband probably *is* as competent a caregiver, but because he doesn’t *seem* competent to the first manager, there’s a problem.

      3. Happy meal with extra happy*

        There are no assumptions being made – Addison is talking about specific people they knew, so it’s quite likely the wife and other women had conversations around this issue where the other women did see their choices as sacrifices.

        1. Addison DeWitt*

          Thank you. Again, this was my wife’s observation of people she worked with, and her experience does not deserve to be invalidated.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I agree. I am childfree (not the child-hating kind – I love kids and my niblings particularly, but I do not want kids of my own), but I am of a younger generation and my decision really has nothing to do with feeling I needed to forego something I wanted to succeed professionally. But as a woman who chose to have no kids, I want all women to feel they can make that choice in either direction with proper support. So I advocate for longer and paid parental leave for both sexes, for promoting a system that encourages male parents to use those benefits as much as female parents, for affordable childcare options, flexibility, comfortable and private pumping accommodations, etc.

            I have known people who act the way your wife’s coworkers did as well. And I think the key difference is that those people, even if they do not regret not having children, are resentful that they did not have the supports to make it a real choice to be able to succeed professionally and have kids. And that resentment is being misdirected onto the younger women who “have it so much easier” rather than onto the old school system that needs to be dismantled and changed.

      4. Typing All The Time*

        Agreed but childless colleagues shouldn’t try to make those who become parents feel bad about their decision. Or if they have different circumstances.

      5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I do not think the commenter is assuming this of all women who choose not to have children. I have never wanted children, and I am single and happy with my life. But I am not resentful of women in the workplace who are mothers and I support them and things like proper pumping accommodations, paid parental leave, encouraging parents of both genders to take and use paid parental leave, etc.

        The commenter was speaking to a phenomenon that happens a lot, and that genuinely affected many women of older generations, especially in notoriously sexist fields like law. These are women who really did feel they had no choice if they wanted to get ahead and some do feel genuine resentment because they feel younger women in the profession have it easier than they did and they see it as “coddling.” Even if they do not regret not having children, I can understand why they might feel resentful. I just think they need to work that out in therapy before they allow those emotions to undermine progress for women.

    4. Purpleshark*

      Crabs in a barrel – there is a view that there is only room for a few women or one woman. I think that often women and I would add minorities have to battle one another for coveted positions which can lead to acrimonious relationships. This is quite toxic but it is a whole thing for women and minorities who are constantly told that they are the representative for your group so we have “met our quota”.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah and it sucks because the real people in power are laughing all the way to the bank while the little guys fight it out.

      2. Alternative Person*

        This. I love and support diversity programmes but I’ve seen an unfortunate trend of tokenism combined with a gutted management structure that has resulted in a lot of good people getting left in the cold.

      3. allathian*

        It’s the divide and conquer strategy of the old boys’ network of mediocre white men. They keep the women (and minorities) squabbling among themselves for position and prestige, and reap the rewards themselves.

        The thing these guys fear most is genuine solidarity between women.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yeah, it’s such a messed up viewpoint. I’ve definitely worked with women who chose career instead of family, and that’s their choice and that’s fine. But it’s a problem when a woman looks down on another woman for not making the same choices she made. I had a former coworker who actually said that she thought that having children ruined a woman’s career. Yikes.

      1. allathian*

        In my experience people who are genuinely happy with their life choices don’t need to push down on others for choosing differently. My sister’s happily childfree and very career-focused, as are many of her colleagues (she’s in academia). But she’s the best aunt ever to my son, and an unofficial godmother (she’s not a member of any church so she can’t be a “real” one) to many of her friends’ and coworkers’ kids.

        Similarly I’m very happy to be the mother of one kid, and I have absolutely no need to look down on people whose choices or life circumstances took them elsewhere, either childfree or multiple kids (I don’t think I’d be happy in the chaos of raising siblings, what I remember most from my own childhood are the constant fights with my sister, even if we get along great now).

        But there’s at least one cousin in my extended family who has adult kids and by all accounts regrets the sacrifices having kids required her to make. I didn’t talk to her much while her kids were young, but now that they’ve grown up and moved out, my cousin’s loving her life as an empty nester. She’s also looking forward to being a grandmom someday, and has been at least mildly pressuring her kids to have kids, on the premise that she put the life she really wanted on hold for 20+ years to raise them, and now she wants them to reward her for it by giving her grandkids…

  6. EG*

    This happened to a colleague in my former company. After my colleague told the department head what had happened, her manager (a man) was swiftly fired and escorted out the door by security.

  7. Antilles*

    She said she wanted to remind me that it’s against company policy to have my child in the home if I’m working from home and I need to provide proof of childcare once we return to the office (this isn’t true and just an asinine lie to make up?)
    Not only is it untrue, her lie doesn’t even make sense:
    Even if it was against company policy to have a kid at home while you’re WFH, why would they need the proof once you return to office full-time? Wouldn’t they want the proof right now, when you’re actively WFH and potentially being distracted by the toddler? The whole point of this theoretical policy is avoiding distractions when you’re WFH; once you’re back in office it’s not relevant whether your kid is at your house with hubby or at a childcare.

    1. Prof. Kat*

      Definitely seconding the fact that you sadly often cannot expect other mothers to understand or be supportive. A manager at my workplace (not my manager, thankfully) has adult kids, and she took basically the minimum possible maternity leave for her physical recovery and got right back to work. She is very clear that this was not due to needing the pay, she WANTED to be back at work ASAP. Which, okay, do whatever works for you…but she feels that maternity leave is frivolous and that all other women should follow her example. Barf.

      On the other hand, my manager when I took my first maternity leave is a 50-something guy who never had kids, and he was incredibly accommodating and encouraging of me taking as much leave as I wanted. He even moved some stuff around upon my return to allow me to work from home more than I normally would, as I have a long commute and he didn’t want me to lose out on time with my kid in the evenings. He’s a very, very decent human being.

    2. KateM*

      Yeah, was she saying she needs to see proof that OP won’t leave her kid home alone when working from office??

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Was she supposed to hang her kid out the window with a rope??? What exactly did this manager think people did with their children pre-COVID?

  8. Olive*

    I hope the comments saying she should quit and stay home were a tiny minority. (I do understand how just a few comments like that can feel really crushing though).

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Yeah, that makes me mad. If the LW was asking for a solution to the problem, that option should be at the very bottom of a very long list. I’m sorry anyone said that at all.

      1. duinath*

        absolutely. i was gobsmacked to read that bit, that is absolutely not a solution to this and i would be offended if i was op. i’m not op, and i’m still offended.

    2. Elle*

      I came to the comments specifically to see what the response to THAT part of the letter was. I have to admit that I don’t understand the logic of someone who, when confronted with a stranger asking work questions, would advise that stranger to stop working. Yikes.

      1. Olive*

        From the letters earlier today, multiple people were advising someone who didn’t want their coworker to cook food for them to be more flexible and donate their own groceries to other people.

        Obviously not as extreme, but there are a lot of people-pleasers in the world.

    3. Yes And*

      I was shocked that anyone in this community would suggest that, and I found the comments I think OP was referring to. My interpretation was that the commenters were speculating on what the boss would tell OP to do, not making their own recommendations. If anything, the comments were tinged with judgment of the boss.

      Expand the replies:

      1. Katara's side braids*

        I did the same and came to the same conclusion. But I could also have missed comments – I did a ctrl-F on the words “quit” and “leave” and may have missed a different phrasing that was actually suggesting she quit.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I agree. Because it is in the comment thread, sometimes it is easy to lose track of what a comment it responding to. But in that case, she seems to be responding to “what does your boss expect you to do? get rid of your kid?” And the commenter is saying “or quit and become a SAHM” – meaning, the boss is being unreasonable and won’t accept any valid solutions.

    4. boof*

      I wonder if they were deleted? I couldn’t find anything like that in the original (searching for “quit”) except two people who seemed to be saying what they thought the manager was thinking, not actual recommending it

    5. I've done it*

      Comments can be deleted and once removed there is not always indication they were ever there…. searching an old post doesn’t ensure all the comments that were ever posted will be (still) be there.

      Source: Me. I’ve requested comments removed.

  9. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    You cannot have the child in the home while you are working, hmmm, we;ve seen Fergus show off Fergus, Jr. on zoom, so when did this policy start?

    While it is true most companies do require a childcare plan for work for him, that is not daycare outside the home. Other parent is acceptable.

    Honestly women are harder on other women than men are sometimes.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      good old internalized misogyny – I suffered to get this one seat at the table so instead of making more seats for more women, I’m going to also make you suffer and compete for a seat.

      In some ways I think it’s more damaging.

    2. Ace of Dragons*

      Also, what about parents who have a nanny to watch their children? Or who have a grandparent that can come to their home to babysit? Are they supposed to require that the childcare provider (in whatever form that may take) physically remove the child(ren) from the premises every day for the entire work day? That simply makes no sense.

      1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

        Yep, I had family who worked from home but their nanny was there every day. During their workday they would basically see their kids in passing but that was it.

      2. turquoisecow*

        yeah, my sister-in-law did this when her youngest was small, the nanny took care of the kid and all her needs while SIL worked in her home office on another floor. Definitely she took breaks to see the kid and if the nanny needed anything, she was right there, but she wasn’t doing the childcare and the kid was in the house.

        Also, even if one parent was a stay at home parent, the kid would still be IN the house.

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I know! During the lockdown, my mom and at times my dad went to my sister’s house each day while she worked and they helped the boys with schooling and did other childcare. Sometimes the kids went to my parents’ house, but the schooling setup and everything they needed was at my sister’s house and it was just easier for everyone.

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I do think it’s important to recognize that women carry huge amounts of internalized misogyny in their ideas and worldviews after being inundated with it for their entire lives. Misogyny does not only come from men!

  10. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

    LW, this was a bad situation and your former manager was obnoxious, but I think most of your takeaways are a bit of an overcorrection. (Number 2 is the only one I agree with, but it still wasn’t a terrible mistake.)

    You said you’d been at this company 10 years. In your first letter you said “Every department I’ve worked in has been very supportive and flexible”. I don’t think it makes sense to decide from this 1 case that you can never relax or be comfortable or share personal info ever again. This is 1 manager who sucks. Don’t change yourself because of 1 person’s crappy behavior.

    Also, you don’t mention ever taking this to employee relations. Maybe you forgot to mention that, but if nobody knows about her behavior other than that 1 director, I’m not sure why you’d expect them to do anything about it. You don’t need to “question everything”, although I get the impulse.

    Sexism is real and there is a double standard for men who care for children and that’s not limited to the workplace. If you never realized that before, I’m sure it was a shock. I’ve been through some stuff that made me question myself/the world, but that’s always been an overreaction – it was 1 person doing awful things, but my brain went looking for a pattern because I wanted to protect myself from it ever happening again. But you can’t stop other people being jerks. So continue being yourself and if you encounter a similar jerk again, you’ll be better prepared.

    Don’t let your crappy ex-boss turn you into a different version of yourself.

    1. Melissa*

      This is such a good point. There’s a real instinct sometimes to forget about years of positive (or neutral!) experiences, and throw them away in response to one bad one.

    2. Observer*

      but if nobody knows about her behavior other than that 1 director, I’m not sure why you’d expect them to do anything about it.

      Well, someone else *has* to know about it, because the OP got moved, and that always has implications, so the reason can’t be secret. Beyond that, it is the *duty* of a manager to take action on such egregious misconduct. Keep in mind, this is not just gross, but this is a classic case of gender based discrimination. If this ever went to the relevant regulatory agency, they would be toast.

      Also, this is clearly not a secret. If the OP is hearing from others that this particular person has a reputation, that speaks volumes about the situation there. Also, now that the manager knows about the problem, how is this supervisor getting away with being rude to another employee who announced her pregnancy? Her Manager should be keeping an eye on her!

      Something is definitely not right here.

  11. Fluffy Fish*

    “And to the comments advising that I should quit and stay home – this isn’t realistic in this economy, at least not where I live.”

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the comment section that comes up all the time. Bad manager? Quit! Terrible colleagues? Quit! Have to come into the office? Quit!

    The reality for most people is they cannot simply financially quit and if they could they would have. It’s the absolute least helpful advice you can give someone and I would love for it to go away.

    1. Emily*

      I don’t think “quit” is generally good advice, but I think “job search!” is underrated as advice. A lot of people really don’t know what their options are. And that cuts both ways — you might be fighting a situation at work more strenuously than you would if you realized that the total package of your job is better than you’re currently going to do anywhere else. Or you might not be having a serious, “this is not workable for me” conversation with your manager because you think you couldn’t do better when you actually could. It’s good to know what your options are.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Job search is great. Definitely not applicable to the find a new job so you can quit.

        There’s a shockingly lot of people who really do advise people to just leave without a plan or a job. It’s incredibly annoying.

        1. Pizza Rat*

          Right? And the way the market has been lately, “Just get a new job,” isn’t nearly as easy as some people seem to think. Not to mention the golden handcuffs of a good benefits package.

      2. bamcheeks*

        yeah, I think it’s the same as Dan Savage’s “DTMFA”– it is *really common* for people to feel trapped in a situation because they think they HAVE to solve Problem, but Problem is not actually solvable, and they haven’t looked at the wider context and asked what their actual level of agency is here. Sometimes, the answer to “Please tell me how to make my boyfriend / boss / co-worker understand that…” is “you can’t, so what else can you change? Can you change the situation so you don’t have to deal with boyfriend / boss / co-worker?” Sometimes, the answer is “I’m allowed to do that? I’m not a failure if I don’t solve Problem?” Sometimes it’s “nope, I have to live with them because [solid material reasons],” and that can be shitty situation, but “I can’t fix this, and I can’t change it, so I have to find a way to live with it” is a healthier approach than, “I am failing because I should be able to fix this.”

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      Seconded. The only reason I can think of to quit without another job lined up is if the work environment is seriously harming someone’s physical or mental heath. Otherwise, decent jobs are too hard to find and the cost of living is too high for most single income households to get by.

      Besides, not every mother wants to stay home with the child and it reeks of “your career isn’t as important as motherhood anyway”. LW’s career is important to her and why on Earth should she have to throw that all away just because her manager is a jerk?

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Seriously. OP didn’t ask for advice so about being a SAHM so even aside from the it’s stupid to tell people to quit, it’s incredibly sexist to assume she would want to do so in the first place.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I have definitely seen people suggest quitting in some laughably low-stakes situations, and I have to remind myself that they must be workers in very in-demand fields where people fall over themselves to hire them – which is not my situation at all – but I hope nobody here said “quit and stay home” as if OP didn’t belong in the workforce.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        I think the “just quits” are the same type of people who suggest nuclear options that only would work in a tv show and will get you fired in real life.

        Equally as annoying.

    4. Typing All The Time*

      Same. I had a friend who would suggest this and had done it but she is married to a very hardworking hubby and has two supportive family units.

    5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      In an above thread, someone linked to the comment they think was referenced, and it is part of a number of comments responding to the comment “If being a mother while working a job is so “unacceptable,” I’m so curious what this manager expects LW to do. Get rid of the kid??” The comment that responds with “or quit to become an SAHM” is technically responding to one of the responses to that first comment, but it does not make a lot of sense there, so I think they meant it to be a response to that first comment and more of a sarcastic response … like, of course, the boss thinks the only options are to ditch the kid or not work at all!

  12. Strict Extension*

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this and so happy you found support in your director and are now in a better place.

    …but I also can’t help but giggle a little picturing you summarizing that first one-on-one in an email. “You asked about my childcare arrangements. I told you my husband works an opposite schedule and cares for our child while I work. You told me mothers can never be fully present at work because they think too much about their kids to focus on anything else. You then let me know mothers should put their kids in daycare so as not to take them to the grocery store. Please let me know if you have any additions or changes!”

  13. Observer*

    OP, I hope you have some emails about this. Because I hope you will report this to the DOL / EEOC once you are out of there. Also, if someone else reports this, the fact that you told them about this is going to make a difference. And emails make it very, very hard to claim that they didn’t know.

    Also, if you can make a list of who told you what about her attitude, that could wind up being useful if anyone does an investigation. Again, by itself it’s not that big of a deal. But if multiple people knew about how “not empathetic” she was, that’s a bigger issue and it again heightens the responsibility of the company in this case.

  14. Melissa*

    My husband and I both work full-time. Recently, our son had Covid and had to miss school. Every single time I was at work and I mentioned that he was sick, my colleagues responded with “Who’s watching your son?” asked in a friendly, truly caring tone. First of all, he’s in junior high and doesn’t need to be “watched” (but I don’t expect my co-workers to have everyone’s ages memorized). But also, it was such a weird question, because I have a husband. When my husband gave the same information to his colleagues, the responses were “Oh man, too bad, hope he feels better” etc. It’s just remarkable, because none of these people mean offense, nor are they normally sexists, etc! It’s just an all-encompassing, unconscious belief that moms are the ones who take care of children.

    1. BellyButton*

      As a manager I would likely ask because I would want to make sure you had coverage and felt like you could take off. I am not going to ask anymore, instead I will say “I hope he recovers quickly and everyone else manages to avoid getting sick! Let me know if you need to take some time off, we will work it out.”

      Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

      1. Melissa*

        Thank you! I know you and everyone else asking means well. But I agree that you should stop asking. I think it either feels sexist, or sometimes it feels like “Are you leaving him home alone? Because you shouldn’t.” I think that if a person is AT work, you can safely assume that they’ve handled their childcare arrangements. And if not, they’ll let you know!

        1. Broadway Duchess*

          This is what I love about this community. I learn so much about other perspectives and it’s so cool to see people using those perspectives in a different way.

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      When I had to take sick time to care for my sick toddler, a male coworker came to my desk and announce that when HIS children were sick HIS WIFE took care of that. I just stood there, flummoxed, then answered, “I don’t have a wife.” I think it went right over his head.

      BTW, his wife worked.

    3. allathian*

      Yes, indeed.

      When our son first went to daycare, he was sick pretty much every other week. At the time I was working 30 hours a week, and could more easily miss work at short notice than my husband could. But when our started school, my husband stayed home with our son more often than I did, simply because at the time he could WFH and I couldn’t.

      Now he’s in 8th grade and could be left at home alone for the workday if he was just sick enough not to go to school but not so sick that he needs supervision, and both parents had to be at the office.

  15. Beckaity*

    LW, thank you for the update!

    I’d love to get everyone’s opinion on how to (delicately) approach coworkers you don’t know and get feedback on their managers. I’m always nervous that I will get a canned response that means nothing, or I would genuinely upset someone for presuming I’ll get the transfer/job before it’s been awarded.

    Or of course asking the person who is applying for the same job. Eek.

  16. Why do women do this to other women?*

    Your horrible boss sounds just like my old boss. She was a single mom with adult kids- but she was very proud of the fact that she stayed home with her kids when they were little. I think she thought all moms should do the same. She was very pro-breastfeeding, but even before she was my boss she was also very critical when I had to take my pumping breaks (which I always scheduled around meetings- so they did not interfere with my work).
    Once she became my boss, she was only in her role a few months before she told me in a touch base that perhaps I would be better suited to a less stressful role while I had young kids. (This was an individual contributor role- not rocket science). I reported her to our director, and I think she was put on a performance improvement plan. She did apologize to me and claimed she was still “learning these new rules of being a people leader.” Then she retaliated against me and tried to give me sub-par marks on my evaluation. I challenged it with the director, and my evaluation scores were changed to being above-par! The director had me keep logging each issue with her, but the issues dropped off and she switched to bullying another employee. Eventually we got a new director who didn’t stand for any of this. The new director had each of us with issues forward all of our past documentation. The new director fired the horrible boss within a few months. It was a very awkward meeting when they announced it- because everyone wanted to celebrate, but couldn’t because that would be unprofessional. Sadly the team went through a whole year of massive turnover as a result of her bullying. I took a promotion to a new team, and am MUCH happier.

  17. Sparkles McFadden*

    I am sorry all of this happened to you. Thank you for the update, as I’ve thought about your letter from time to time. I didn’t comment as I had nothing helpful to add, and I also thought I’d read comments that might make me want to punch my computer. You have also done some good for others in your company whether you know it or not. Every time someone stands up to nonsense like this, it helps others to stand up too, so thank you for your excellent recommendations.

    Best of luck in 2024.

  18. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    Honestly this story is more more horrifying to me then the letter that actually won worst boss of 2023. This happens to 1000s or 10,000s of women every year.

  19. Panhandlerann*

    Oh my goodness. I can so identify. I had a colleague in my university department back when my two daughters were young. This colleague–who was a tenured professor while I was still untenured–had stayed home with her kids when they were young and then gone back to work only when the youngest one entered school. When the first one was born, she’d quit a tenure-track job, supposedly just one semester shy of receiving tenure, supposedly because in the entire city she was in, there was not a single solitary person or entity that could provide childcare for her child. She regularly bemoaned this situation to me and pointedly repeated how she’d stayed home for years with her (eventually) four children. It was obvious that she was envious of my situation in which I was able to work and have childcare for my young children. Normally, I’d have had much sympathy for her travails, but she was an absolute horror to work with in many, many ways (she tried, for example, to have a Canadian colleague deported) and definitely thought others should suffer because she had, so my well of sympathy fast ran dry in this case. There was also real reason to believe she was not being quite on the up and up about her reason for having left the tenure-track position, that maybe she wasn’t going to receive tenure, so it was convenient for her to use the baby as an excuse for having left the position.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      This person sounds awful, and also – she tried to have someone deported. WTF? She should have deported herself to the Island of Arsehole Bosses instead!

  20. BellyButton*

    We can’t hear all those points enough! The more we hear them, the more likely it is that we will be able to react in the moment.

    Women punishing, judging, and holding back women is the worst. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have- let’s support them and treat them with kindness and empathy.

    1. Pizza Rat*

      It’s a glass ceiling we’re supposed to be shattering, not a door we’re slamming and locking behind us.

      Ay yi yi, some people.

  21. H.Regalis*

    Other moms may not be understanding

    Yup. Women are the victims of sexism and misogyny, and will turn right around and be sexist and misogynistic towards other women. Being a victim of systemic oppression unfortunately does not mean that you yourself don’t have internalized racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc.

    Plus, whatever you do as a mom, someone somewhere will tell you that it’s wrong and you’re a terrible mother. You can’t win with this stuff.

    1. BellyButton*

      Your post reminds me of the gross Christmas card trend I saw- where the man is holding a sign that says “Finally, peace on Earth” and the woman and (ONLY) the girl children have duct tape on their mouths, and some are even tied up with Christmas lights.

          1. JustaTech*

            It’s right up there with some pregnancy announcements/ birth announcements that make you really wonder about the quality of the couple’s relationship. (“Finally a boy!” or “A whole basketball team!” or anything that equates a woman to livestock.)

  22. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    “the comments advising that I should quit and stay home”

    wtf, people said that here!?
    It shouldn’t need saying, but every adult has an equal right to work and earn a wage, regardless of their sex or whether they have kids, so long as they can do the job. Without harassment or pearl-clutching.
    And imo it is healthier for every employee NOT to prioritise the interests of the employer above your own. Do the best job you can within working hours, then go home and switch off .

  23. Green Goose*

    Point #1 in OPs update is sadly true. I’m a mom of two young kids and in general I’ve found a camaraderie and understanding from other working moms but I’ve had two experiences in the last year with C suite level moms that have been pretty disappointing. It’s good to remember that everyone is an individual and some managers that are moms can be great and others are awful.

    I actually recently applied for a role at an organization and I knew through internet searching that the woman I’d be reporting to was also a mom so I assumed that she’d be more okay with WFH (the company allows it but the # of days is up to individual manager) and in the interview she bragged about staying at work late with the leadership team, listed the “beers on tap at the office” as a “great perk” and said she expected her team to be onsite more than the rest of the office. I was pretty disappointed but also it was a reminder for e to not make assumptions about people I don’t know at all just because they have kids.

    OP, I’m so glad you aren’t working for her anymore!

    1. BellyButton*

      Someone in that position has a lot more money to make sure their kids have daycare, after school care, a nanny, a housekeeper, a lawn person, etc etc etc. It puts them in an entirely different position to “have it all” (having it all is such a crock of sh*t)

      1. I Have RBF*

        Reminds me of when Marissa Meyer at Yahoo was “not a feminist”, but had an entire office converted into a nursery so her kid, and her nanny, could be with her at work. That woman was a dumpster fire.

        1. Green Goose*

          I googled her after your comment and yikes! I’d be pretty concerned if I were working somewhere and my CEO took one month maternity leave. Such a step back for progress :(

  24. Sabetha*

    “And to the comments advising that I should quit and stay home – STFU”

    There, I fixed your last sentence.

    I’m so sorry some people had the nerve to say anything of the sort to you.

    1. Veryanon*

      Right? When my son was a baby/toddler in 2000/2001, he had lots of illnesses – ear infections, asthma, etc. My pediatrician actually suggested to me that I should quit my job and stay home with him so that he wouldn’t catch every germ out there. Like he wouldn’t catch them all anyway when he started school or otherwise interacted more with the world. Why does anyone think this is a viable solution?

    2. Anonly*

      So many people told my friend to quit her job (school teacher) in 2020 bc she spent part of her life in the UK and she had to remind them we live in America and there is a pandemic lol. Sure I’ll just quit and never see a doctor when I catch this plague?

  25. Abogado Avocado*

    LW, you are my hero for standing up for yourself and other working mothers, and for your actions in changing your situation. Please remember to tell your children when you’re older about this experience. They need to know that these terrible attitudes persist and that they can fight against them — and also that their Mom is badass!

    You are totally right: it’s terrible that this woman isn’t an ally. I can’t explain it, although I, too, have experienced similar attitudes during my career, and it totally appalls me. The best I can say is that I’m heartened by the many on this list who agree that we have to stand up for each other in the workplace. May we all go forward in 2024 and do that!

  26. Audrey Puffins*

    LW, you have handled this brilliantly and I’m in awe of both you and your terrible manager, for completely opposite reasons. Please reach out to this manager’s newly pregnant team member, it sounds like she might be in for her own taste of this misogyny and it will be great for her to know that she doesn’t have to stand for it and she’s got you in her corner if necessary.

  27. TootsNYC*

    I wondered at the time if this boss thinks husbands are ineffectual babysitters who always interrupt mom anytime they don’t know what to make for lunch, where the spare diapers are, what to do with a big blowout, what the kid’s teachers name is, etc.

    The world is full of dads who really don’t approach childcare as a truly “hands on, I’m responsible” approach.

    (My own husband had to be told pretty forcefully that “watch the toddler so I can cook” didn’t mean “sitting in the living room looking at her play and watching as she walks into the kitchen”–that “watching” was a euphemism for “keep her occupied and play with her to keep her from coming to bother me”)

    1. anywhere but here*

      “Yeah I’m watching the kid. Watching her get in your way and make a mess. Oh wait, you mean do something other than passively observe?”

      Reminds me of that joke about “watching” one’s weight where it’s just watching it go up / stay the same haha.

  28. Quinalla*

    As others have said, don’t beat yourself up too much for expecting your boss to be reasonable. I guess at least she told you flat out and didn’t try to pretend to be supportive but ooof. Glad you got out of there. I don’t blame you for job searching, but I am still hopeful your company is doing something in the background.

    1. Yup, other moms, even ones who went through a similar situation are not always understanding. It sucks! My Aunt who worked was the worst about making comments about how she couldn’t believe I put my kids in daycare and went back to work full time?! I learned early on to do what worked for my family and to try and ignore everyone else as much as possible.

    2. I agree this is a solid lesson learned!

    3. Unfortunately yes still the case. And it isn’t like men have the perfect end of the stick either, if they want to be more involved Dad’s beyond whatever is social acceptable at the moment, they can quickly be turned on, but Mom’s for sure have this worse. It is one of the reasons that since I am in a senior position with a lot of respect built up that I make a point of talking about my kids, how my husband and I split the load especially, to try and normalize it. Not everyone is able to do this though.

    4. I think it is wise to send summaries to meetings just for memory/tracking and to make sure everyone had the same takeaways, but yes for CYA as well. It sounds like your crappy boss was savvy enough to not put things like that in writing (most, but not all, are).

  29. Momma Bear*

    OP’s #1 about moms not always being understanding – yup. I had a manager who was a single parent with older kids and she was one of the least understanding bosses I’ve ever had. She also seemed resentful of married parents in general, perhaps because she had no partner of her own. I did what OP did and got out of there.

    My previous boss was a case of someone who got promoted by default, not a manager hired to be a manager. I wonder if that’s the case with OP’s old manager. I’m glad OP is in a better situation, though.

    1. Veryanon*

      It’s so weird! When my kids were small, I had a female manager whose children were grown and she had always worked, but she was the least supportive manager when it came to anything having to do with my kids. I guess because her mother had cared for her children when they were young, she thought anyone who didn’t have this arrangement wasn’t fully engaged or something.
      She used to have this bad habit of calling me very early in the morning before my scheduled hours (we’re talking like 6:30am) to ask me about non-urgent things that could have easily waited until I was in the office. I asked her once if she could stop doing this since that was primetime “trying to get everyone ready to leave” (my kids were like 7 and 4 at the time). She continued to do it anyway. So frustrating.

  30. 2 Cents*

    No need to apologize. I’m sorry you went through this.

    The absolute worst people to me in my old office when I got pregnant/gave birth were women—all of whom had grown children— bc they didn’t have morning sickness (so I must be exaggerating how bad it was), paid mat leave (“can’t believe we’re paying you not to work!”), or supportive partners (“he’ll change once the baby is here!”). So glad to be rid of that place.

    On the other hand, several men my own age were wonderful—getting my car when it was parked in the boonies and there’d been an ice storm, carrying my 4 bags (laptop, etc), agreeing not to eat fish in front of me in the cafeteria. I didn’t ask for these things—they offered.

  31. Veryanon*

    It always amazes me, although it shouldn’t, that women managers who have had children are the least supportive of other working mothers (I’ve experienced this myself). Oddly, the male managers I’ve had have often been the ones who were most supportive of whatever I had going on when my children were small. It’s also very disheartening that this is still A Thing in 2023. :(

  32. Yup!*

    We can ask why women do this to women, but the answer is the same as why men do this to women. This is what the patriarchy expects from people in the workplace: to behave like a man. So we can focus our efforts on discussing how “bad” some women are to other women, but the issue is the *entire system*, which is not made for women at all, and succeeding means acting like all the other men in power.

    Blaming women for this is also problematic, even if this manager is a huge problem and should be dealt with.

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