I am a student in a Ph.D. program.
I have a female professor who is pregnant. At first she was hiding it, but now she’s wearing maternity clothes, and it’s pretty obvious.
However, it’s really starting to frustrate me that no one will talk about the fact that she’s pregnant except behind her back — she is the white elephant in the room.
I want to congratulate her and ask her when she’s due, but I don’t want to be the first one to acknowledge it. Others estimate that she’s about six months along.
Any ideas? — Want to Say Congrats
Here’s Amy’s extremely sensible reply:
Any woman starts to feel like public property late in her pregnancy, but your professor’s pregnancy truly is none of your business — any more than it would be if she and her husband were going through the process of adopting a child, or if she were a male professor whose wife was pregnant.
Referring to your professor as “the white elephant in the room” is regrettable.
If you can’t concentrate on your studies because of your professor’s condition, approach her after class. Ask her all the questions you want to ask. She will handle your query the best way she knows how and then most likely write me a letter expressing her frustration.
(I might add: If you approach your professor with your deep and abiding concerns that she hasn’t discussed her pregnancy with you, she will almost undoubtedly think that you’re either an idiot, or a deeply strange person–or both!– for being so obsessed with her body and her personal life.) Why does pregnancy drive normally sensible people nuts? Did you catch that, “at first she was hiding it” comment in the letter from “Congrats?” Like it’s her responsibility to make an announcement to each and every one of her students and colleagues the minute she leaves the bathroom waving around an at-home pregnancy test? What’s with the “no one will talk about the fact that she’s pregnant except behind her back” comment, too? (Presumably, people gossip about the non-pregnant people too, right?)
What’s going on here? Is this a grad flake with an inflated sense of hir role in this professor’s life and career? Let me know what your experiences were if you were ever pregnant while working in academia, or what you’ve observed about pregnancy in the academic workplace if you’ve never been pregnant.