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Understanding pregnancy discrimination: a pilot study of Victorian women's experiences at work

Women and employment Pregnancy Discrimination Victoria

This report presents the findings of a pilot study on women’s experiences of pregnancy discrimination in Victoria arising from a collaboration between Associate Professor Dominique Allen and Ms Adriana Orifici (Monash Business School) and Job Watch Inc. (JobWatch).

Data from three groups of women is considered in this project: de-identified statistical data about women who encountered potential pregnancy discrimination at work and then sought information from JobWatch; case studies compiled by JobWatch profiling the experiences of a selection of these women (Callers); and four semi-structured interviews with four women who contacted JobWatch during the 2018/19 or 2019/20 financial years.

To better understand the dynamics of pregnancy discrimination, given the dearth of publicly available information on the subject, the aim of the pilot study was to identify and examine:

  • demographic characteristics of women who encountered potential pregnancy discrimination at work and then sought information from JobWatch in the study period;
  • common manifestations of pregnancy discrimination at work communicated by Callers and Interview Participants; and
  • how callers and interview participants who were exposed to pregnancy discrimination responded to it.

The central findings and key implications highlight pathways for future research. These need to be examined to test whether the law supports women at each stage of their working lives, and whether employers’ translations of these laws into internal systems, processes and practices promote substantive equality at work.

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