I'm one of the lucky ones. Having two children while juggling a demanding full-time job and career was a positive experience.
But for many other women, it has been a guilt-ridden, unhappy and sometimes devastating period of their lives. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) receives more complaints about pregnancy and maternity than any other type of sex discrimination issue, even beating equal pay and sexual harassment.
This is hardly surprising given the plethora of legislation in this area and much wider public awareness of rights in the workplace. So the enquiry into pregnancy discrimination, aptly announced in 'work-life balance week', is long overdue, and must be welcomed.
Although there is a more regulated social framework for women to balance family and work duties, many of these measures have yet to take practical effect.
Unfair treatment of working pregnant women is widespread across all occupations and sectors. And it isn't just the small employers who are guilty of victimisation. Problems encountered include dismissal, lack of promotion, change of salary terms, unfounded criticism, downgraded appraisals, non-payment of bonuses and disciplinary action for performance. Recent research among 1,200 adults reveals 21 per cent know someone who suffered work difficulties because of their pregnancy.
Many problems originate in poor practice at line manager level, and this review is likely to reinforce the need for improvements in people management skills.
Women make up a growing percentage of the workforce and represent a talented and versatile resource. But working mums are not as motivated and engaged as they could be as some feel poorly treated. Evidence shows that nearly eight in 10 working mums would quit their full-time jobs tomorrow if given the chance. This says a good deal about the lethargy of employers in responding flexibly to their needs.
Individuals that have suffered discrimination and employers will be heavily involved in the EOC's 18-month investigation. Employers' knowledge of their legal responsibilities will be assessed and examples of good practice identified.
If you work in an organisation that has acted in a discriminatory way towards pregnant women, you could be asked to attend an interview with the EOC to explore the circumstances and outcome. Whatever your experiences, this is an opportunity to influence the review and help wipe