The employers who won’t hire women: Mumsnet survey of managers and recruiters shows just how common discriminatory attitudes really are

A survey of Mumsnet users provides sobering confirmation of just how far some employers will go to avoid fulfilling their responsibilities towards pregnant women and mothers - up to and including being reluctant to recruit any woman of childbearing age

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The survey - carried out to mark this year's Workfest event - questioned over 1,000 mothers who have worked in the UK and more than 400 Mumsnet users who are directly involved in recruitment. It reveals that:

  • Most employers and recruiters (72%) agree that employers and recruiters in general discriminate against pregnant women
  • More than four in 10 (41%) describe dealing with pregnancy and maternity leave as 'a nightmare'
  • More than a quarter (27%)  have heard someone responsible for recruitment saying they would always choose a male candidate over a female candidate if they were equally capable
  • A third (31%) have heard someone responsible for recruitment expressing the view that employing women is an extra hassle
  • Six out of 10 women workers (64%) have felt that revealing information about their personal circumstances (pregnancy, children, childcare and caring responsibilities) would reduce their chances of being offered a job


Many women workers confirmed that they'd been asked at interview to disclose information that the Equalities Act 2010 clearly states employers must not ask for, including:

  • whether they have children (34%), 
  • whether they plan to have children (18%)  
  • their marital status or sexuality (22%) 
  • whether they have caring responsibilities (10%)       


A fifth (22%) of mothers have been asked how they would manage childcare, were they to get the job - significant, given that more than three-quarters (77%) of women have decided against applying for a job because it would not have fitted in with childcare responsibilities.

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: "What this data shows is that this isn't an issue only for pregnant women and mothers; it's an issue for all women of childbearing age, whether they intend to have children or not. Meanwhile, fathers' caring roles are written out of the picture - to the detriment of women, men and children. Mothers who choose not to apply for demanding jobs aren’t being irrational; on this evidence, they're quite right to assume that many recruiters simply don't want to entertain the idea of hiring them."


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Last updated: 5 months ago