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Fired Wall Street VP Says She Was Placed on "Mommy Track"

Fired Wall Street VP Says She Was Placed on "Mommy Track"

Movies and TV shows featuring busy and glamorous working moms in high-powered jobs may make us feel like we can have it all. But according to Charlotte Hanna, a former VP at Goldman Sachs, she had to forfeit her career path once she had kids.

Hanna, who sued the company for discrimination last week, was pretty high up at Goldman Sachs before she became a mother, and her career seemed to be advancing rapidly. After her first maternity leave, when she chose to come back in a part-time role, Hanna says she felt like she was placed on a “mommy track,” where promotions and raises were no longer an option. She claims she was demoted, left out of meetings and operations, and generally made to feel unwanted. When she took a second maternity leave in 2008, she was told two weeks before returning to work that her position had been eliminated.

Apparently, some women on Wall Street feel that Hanna did this to herself — it’s common knowledge, they say, that you have to wait until later in life to have kids in order to preserve your career. Others say Hanna chose the "mommy track" willingly, and that everyone on Wall Street knows that’s the kiss of death.

What do you think? Does she have a case, or was she responsible for ruining her own career?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I understand what you're saying, Shayna, but do you even have any proof that Hanna's husband made more than her. She went from an associate to a VP in 2 years (according to the linked article). It doesn't seem to me like her career path was hindered by the fact that she's a woman. And I know tons of family where the lesser earning spouse (usually the mother, but sometimes the father) decided to stay home and raise the children. It's not all that uncommon, as long as the spouse working still makes a good wage.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
While yes, in theory, you could pop out a baby and go back to the office, work remotely from your hospital bed, etc., that really isn't the point --- Hanna, and other women, are penalized way before they get pregnant, just because its assumed that at some point they will, and the 6 week maternity leave is nothing compared to the assumption that employers make that they will cut down their hours and professional worth when they have children --- which is fulfilled when their professional worth (since they are then not promoted at the same rate as their husbands) is the smaller of their two income family, and they are the spouse who takes time off to raise the kids/leaves early to pick them up/etc. - after all, in family economics its all about trying to bring home the most money - i.e. make the smallest sacrifice of money. More on this is at
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Actually, rant, you agreed to my point, that it is physically possibly for a woman to return to work without taking the full six weeks of maternity leave. So if I'm ignorant, I guess you are, too!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Rant, I'm not ignorant of the situation. Although, I'm not surprised that, yet again, an anonymous commenter has chosen to use a personal attack. I'm aware that it's not ideal for a mother to return to work quickly, nor did I ever say that anyone should be forced to. I simply said that, when it comes down to it, a woman does have a choice. She is not forced to take 6 weeks of maternity leave. Anonymous comments like the one above rile me.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Yes, I'm serious. I don't have a child either, but I know people who didn't take maternity leave or who took only the other time they had saved up for vacation, sick days, etc.
mydiadem mydiadem 7 years
Are you serious? Its an option to take maternity leave? I don't have a child but my sister does, and it takes quite a while for your body to recover let alone doctor's recommendations that you breastfeed every 3 hours for the first 4 weeks. 4 weeks can be a lifetime in a company if something important is going on, and if you miss that wave then your whole career can be different.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Not to be nitpicky, but a woman doesn't "have to take maternity leave," either. A woman's body can actually recover quite quickly after childbirth and, if she really wants to, she can return to work quite quickly, as well. Actually, I think in recent years, men have faced far more judgment in this area. While most companies offer "paternity leave" along with "maternity leave," men are looked down upon if they choose to take the 6 six weeks off far more than women. :shrug: I think it's a choice both men and women have to make and it can actually be a far more difficult choice for men.
mydiadem mydiadem 7 years
At the end of the day this is a choice that a man doesn't have to make, he is not the one who gets pregnant and has to take maternity leave. I find it hard to swallow that taking maternity leave is not a hindrance to a woman's career. And if a promotion comes up and you have two well qualified individuals and one just happens to be a woman that is newly married (and conventional wisdom says she will have a child in the next few years) and a man I'm sure that most would want the man to keep continuing operations.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Thanks lilkimbo --- And disagreeing is fine ---that's what keeps us moving forward; the challenge of ideas :-) I do think her return part time was the breaking point in this instance - but, and this is purely conjecture based on research done by the Catalyst Organization and others, I suspect the reason why she was the one to drop down to part time hours and not her husband, is that she was paid less than him... and I do believe that its because she was stymied from day one by what I like to call the Uterus Liability - the potential that she would have children and do what she ended up doing - going part time (or leaving altogether)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Shayna, I love your blog and a lot of what you say, but I have to respectfully disagree. I personally know far too many women who have kept working after having children and who have been promoted at an equal pace as, if not more quickly than, their male counterparts. And, in this case, it seems as if Hanna was successful in her career before taking maternity leave. I also don't think it was her maternity leave that was ultimately the issue; I think it was the fact that she returned part time.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
The "mommy track" problem isn't new - its part of an ongoing struggle that women have to break the glass ceiling. The truth is, even before Hanna took her maternity leaves her trajectory was likely impinged compared to a male colleague's, wherein her bosses assumed that at some point she would take time out of the work force, and were more likely to give a man opportunities and promotions than Hanna... if that man was her husband (let's assume her husband is of similar professional focus/caliber), then at the point of which she had children, of course she would be the one to drop out of the workforce for any childcare issues - by then he was more important/qualified/better paid... What a cycle... (also what I write about at
bingbingboom bingbingboom 7 years
Agreed with comments above. Also, how long was her two maternity leave apart? I sometimes felt that there are people who take advantage of the paid maternity leave by having kids back to back. It probably doesn't paint a good picture on Wall Street.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I don't know enough specifics to really say whether or not she has a case, but, based on what's written here, I don't think she does. She chose to take a part time job in lieu of returning to her full time one. Of course she's not going to have the same opportunities she would have had she stayed on full time.
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
It's totally unfair but unfortunately the way of "Wall Street" and most other companies. It would be nice to be able to have a high powered career and be a hands-on mom but I haven't seen that happen anywhere yet. It happened to me when I returned from maternity leave. I chose the mommy track, found an easier job but it would have been preferable to keep the high powered job (and paycheck).
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