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Policy and the pregnant body at work: strategies of secrecy, silence and supra-performance

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Gender, Work and Organisation
Issue number2
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)158-181
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article considers how women manage their pregnant bodies at work.
Through netnographic research and drawing upon feminist discussions of
the leaky pregnant body, I examine the experiences of US and UK women
who correspond on interactive websites or chat rooms. Drawing upon
‘expert advice’ and the experiences of employed pregnant women in this
study, I suggest that the bodily manifestations of pregnancy are taboo in
some workplaces. I note how these women did not appear to draw upon
policy as a resource for dealing with negative reactions to pregnancy from
colleagues and employers. Instead, they tended to adopt strategies of
secrecy, silence and supra-performance in order to try and blend in. In the
context of these strategies, I demonstrate how women’s attempts to manage
and control their bodies are severely compromised during pregnancy,
when the body may be leaky and unpredictable