Boss' boss' boss asked if I was pregnant

posted 1 year ago in Career
Post # 31
Member
1215 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

mrsbjj17 :  if by snowflake you mean that we don’t want to revert to a previous generation when OP’s reaction would be to say,” of course I’m not pregnant because we both know I’d have to quit my job, heehee!” Then snowflake and proud right here. The truth is there are still a lot of men and women who think women should be barefoot and pregnant at home and are not taken seriously in the workplace. This was not a co worker or someone she interacts with a lot, this was someone in a position of power who KNEW he was asking an inappropriate question but did it anyway– men are never asked intimate/medical questions by strangers at work, escpecially ones that can be consequently damaging to their careers (let’s not pretend that every boss is ethical, I know women who have been conveniently let go when they announced a pregnancy)

 

Post # 32
Member
3027 posts
Sugar bee

mrsbjj17 :  “Since when have we become a snowflake generation anyway?” 

OP’s discomfort and anger is not representative of the snowflake generation. She – rightly so – believes that she should be treated as a competent professional woman. Nothing “snowflake” about that. Being an apologist for behavior such as described by OP is one of the reasons this behavior still permeates the workforce.

Post # 33
Member
653 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I still think you should go to HR. Even if they won’t act, this should be documented for a couple reasons. One, this isn’t just an inappropriate question, it’s one that could be used to discriminate against any woman who says yes. Which is illegal, so he’s creating a liability for his company by not keeping his mouth shut. Two, if this is all he can think about when you show up for a big presentation, he’s not seeing you as a professional. Since he’s your boss’s boss and probably has a say in what happens to your career, you need to document this kind of thing.

Post # 34
Member
2024 posts
Buzzing bee

There’s only a couple reasons why he’d do this, and maybe I’m reading into it too much but here’s my take:

 

  • He genuinely thought you were pregnant and:
    1. Doesn’t understand social constructs and why you really shouldn’t ask that (definitely don’t think THAT is the issue here) or
    2. Understands social constructs, but decided he was above that and as an alpha male senior director—it’s his right to barge in where he wants to and question anyone he chooses, when he chooses
  • To the above^, if he IS that alpha male senior director who doesn’t give AF — it’s a win win for him to ask. If you’re pregnant, congrats! He’s thinking— “Here I am taking notice of the people who work for me! Plus I’m awesome because I admitted that I ignored the GOOD ADVICE of society and decided to ask you up front and BINGO—paid off, you’re pregnant so look at me, I’m so ballsy”. The other win is that he understood before he asked you that there’s also a pretty good chance you’re not pregnant, and decided he STILL needed to assert his dominance and authority to get to the “root” of the issue. In his mind, insulting you to your face actually didn’t even blip on his radar. In fact, it shows you that he’s not afraid to do that, takes a little pride in being so confident to be able to do that and subtly wants YOU to know that questioning you—down to how you carry your body weight, isn’t off limits in his mind. It seems like I’m reading into it too much, but honestly—a male authority figure gets you 1:1, says “hey I know this is a taboo thing”…. Proceeds to ASK said taboo thing, then questions YOU when you say no. His response of “are you sure?” implies that you’re not capable of understanding your own autonomy and he somehow knows better than you.

 

This is all kinds of gross, misogynistic assholery that goes on in corporate work environments (and outside, of course) every single day. Where a woman can’t give a presentation without being nitpicked afterwards about her appearance, or her health, or really any topic… and questioned repeatedly about an issue that is no else’s damn business.

 

Sorry Bee, this gets me fired up. I’d be livid.

Post # 35
Member
2222 posts
Buzzing bee

12_Elle :  I would go to HR simply for the fact of his position within the company. Spin it how you’d like, but I’d be wondering if him inquiring about the status of my body were based on not being considered for a future role due to fear of me taking maternity leave? 

 

Even if not, senior leadership should *not* be this unprofessional and he needs to be reprimanded. That is unacceptable, regardless of feelings resulting from his rudeness. There is an intimidation factor that comes into play here, and he knows damn well if he were just a regular employee or low-level manager he would NOT have asked due to the damage it could do to his career. His position has made him comfortable enough to ask this unprofessional questions because like you said, who is above him? HR is—he seems to have forgotten that.

 

Im so sorry that this happened to you, bee. I bet anyone in that situation would’ve been crushed.

Post # 38
Member
2222 posts
Buzzing bee

fiver :  “hey, Steve, I know men don’t like to be asked this question, but have you had a vasectomy? No? Oh, you just have that *glow* about you that shows you’re not worried about accidentally knocking up your mistress”

Post # 39
Member
3583 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

12_Elle :  report to HR. It’s an inappropriate question. Also, he might not have been asking in any reference to your weight whatsoever, but because he was prying in terms of finding out if you’d be taking maternity leave. Either way, not cool. 

Post # 41
Member
1760 posts
Buzzing bee

catskillsinjune :  This was my first thought when I read OP’s first post. Ever since I got engaged, my boss has made comments like “oh god I hope you’re not pregnant” because he doesn’t want me to take materinity leave. It’s nice to know that he values me I guess, but it’s still so annoying and inappropriate. OP, I would definitely tell HR so there is a paper trail. He’s already caused issues so don’t be surprised if more issues with him come up and it would be best to have something like that documented if you ever need it in the future.

Post # 42
Member
2509 posts
Sugar bee

sboom :  I’m going to agree with your read on the situation. He knew OP was behind the relatively recent HR shakeup. And he knew what he was going to say was inappropriate. 

But he knows he’s protected from HR repercussions and he wanted to ruffle OP’s feathers right before her presentation.

I have a feeling that he’s now going to sit back and wait to see if you report to HR.

HR is there to protect him and the company, not you.

In your position, I would be worried about repercussions if I went to HR, especially if he’s set up this situation on purpose.

In my own dealings with manipulative people in the workplace, I ignore ignore ignore. And I’ve gotten fantastic results with that.

What they WANT is the drama of a reaction from you, either in the moment, or later, when you go to HR. Both, preferably. They want you flumoxed and anxious and unsure of yourself.

So Grey Rocking them is the best reaction ever. Stare blandly into their face and pretend you didn’t hear anything they just said, carry on as normal, etc. 

I worry that if you give this guy the reaction he wants, you will become a special target of his and recieve this treatment more and more. In which case, HR is going to protect him, not you. 

On the OTHER hand, my feminist self wants you to follow BalletParker’s advice. lol

Only you can know how important keeping this job is to you, and what risks you’re willing to take.

Don’t feel guilty if you choose to Grey Rock. We are still second-hand citizens in the workplace. Some women have the security to challenge these oppressions, some don’t. I will never victim blame a woman who doesn’t feel safe enough to challenge. 

Post # 43
Member
3696 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2019 - City, State

12_Elle :  Ugh, OP this really SUCKS! Congratulations on the weight loss, that’s really awesome. I’m sorry this asshat made you self-conscious and right before a presentation! My take on it is that it probably wasn’t a power move since he was encouraging you when he noticed you were flustered, if it was a power move, I think he would have sat back and enjoyed watching you struggle a little. Maybe he was just trying to make conversation, albeit in the worst possible way. If you don’t want to go to HR or send him a follow-up email letting him know that it was inappropriate, your only option is to have a response ready in case it ever happens again. I think I would say something along the lines of “I wish you wouldn’t ask me that question. You know it’s not appropriate and makes me uncomfortable. If I was pregnant and hadn’t told anyone yet, it would be for a reason and I would appreciate if keeping personal and medical information private”. 

I used to have a male co-worker ask this ALL the time. Mostly because he had just started a family and we were all around the same age and newly married/getting married. My responses ranged from “No, are you?” to “Yup! Due tomorrow, here’s all the work you’ll have to do for me while I’m away”, to “You know, if someone IS actually pregnant and you ask that question, it puts them in a really awkward position”. He was mostly joking and it had nothing to do with appearance so I took it lightly. However I DID have a coworker ask me genuinely the FIRST time I ever met her… Of course she was a tiny woman and I have several extra pounds…I just responded “NOPE!” and walked away. Needless to say, we never really became friendly.

Post # 44
Member
4878 posts
Honey bee

duchessgummybunns :  This is spot on sadly. I think if OP can afford to have to switch jobs go ahead and report (so ignore my advice in the first page I didn’t realize you had been ignored by HR before). I do wish there could be a paper trail for you so I say keep a notebook of comments and dates for instances like this where you are made aware of your gender. 

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