Today’s post is a Special Request post for a reader who wishes to know how to handle pregnancy and the job search, particularly the campus visit.
This is a subject about which I’m not really qualified to write. I was never pregnant while on the job market. I was pregnant as a second and fourth year assistant professor, and I certainly have opinions about that.
But the demands of the job market are different, and frankly, the stakes higher, for the pregnant job candidate. There are so many assumptions about pregnancy, motherhood, and women that come into play when the highly cogitized realm of an academic department comes face to face with a conspicuously pregnant job candidate, assumptions that rarely work in the candidate’s favor.
Basically, bodies tend to make academics uncomfortable, and the pregnant body is hard to ignore.
I would suggest that at some point after the invitation has been made and the arrangements well finalized, you mention to whomever you’ve been corresponding with that you are pregnant.
“By the way,” you might write, “I just wanted to mention that I’m 6 months pregnant. This will not impact my visit in any way; I mention just so nobody is too startled when I arrive.”
My concern about springing a pregnant belly on an unsuspecting search committee or dinner group is that the truly minimal social skills that characterize so many academics could lead to wildly awkward or inappropriate (if well-intentioned) comments. Forestall that possibility with advance warning.
It is my observation that by and large, and particularly as more and more women enter the academy, departments do manage to successfully host pregnant candidates and take them seriously as contenders for the job. I’ve had clients who have also been pumping breast milk at the time of their campus visit, and asked for, and received, accomodation by the department.
Having said that, I’m certain that there are horror stories. And I want to hear them.
My purpose in this post is to solicit stories from those who have actually been there.
Readers, would you share your pregnant campus visit tales and advice, both good and bad, successful and not?
I’d like to create a resource here that will be useful to everyone confronting this challenge, both candidates themselves, but perhaps also the hosting departments, who may be just as desperate for reliable information about potential pitfalls and challenges.
I and my Special Requester thank you in advance.