When you’re a teenager, it can be hard to tell your parents you’re pregnant. When you’re an adult, it can be hard to tell your boss–and for good reason. A new study commissioned by Bright Horizons, a childcare service provider, reveals that 21% of women would be worried to tell their boss they are expecting a child. The workplace doesn’t seem to be getting any friendlier to working moms, either, as that number is now nearly twice what it was five years ago.
The study also reveals that the vast majority of working moms (78%) think they have to work much harder than their colleagues to climb the corporate ladder. They may be right: A good chunk of the workforce, 41%, believe working mothers are less dedicated to their jobs, while 38% think their need for flexible hours is something to look down on, the report found. The so-called motherhood penalty didn’t apply to fathers, as the respondents didn’t seem to harbor any of those same prejudices against working dads. Among those surveyed, 75% thought working fathers were more devoted to their professions than their female counterparts, seemingly unconcerned about their ability to balance work and family obligations.
While the entire report is enough to make a working mom want to kick the window out of her Volvo, it’s even more frustrating because the same respondents believe that working moms actually have the characteristics they want in executives sitting in the C-Suites. Among the respondents, 85% agree that being a mother helps a woman prepare for the challenges she will face as a business leader; 65% said working moms are better listeners than working dads or people who aren’t parents; 51% said working mothers are calmer in emergencies; and 44% said they are better team players.
Overall, 84% of those in the Bright Horizons survey said working moms in top roles will make a company more successful. Corporations should want that–they just can’t seem to get over their prejudice long enough to make it happen, and until then, there’s a good reason women don’t want to tell their bosses their news.