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Twitter responds to pregnant Ph.D. uninvited to conference


Samantha Decombel, a U.K. based scientist with a Ph.D. in genetics, was surprised when she got a letter from the European Commission revoking her invitation to speak at a November science conference in Brussels.

The reason? Decombel is seven months pregnant.

As conference organizers put it, they were "not enthusiastic" that she take the risk of traveling to Brussels at this late stage in her pregnancy.

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So Decombel did what many would do, taking her concerns to The Sunday Times for an exclusive story and sounding off on social media by posting her account of what happened on Instagram :

"As an advocate for our company I am in excellent health. Regardless, it should be my choice, as it should be any woman's choice, as to whether to participate in events at this later stage of pregnancy. I invited them to reconsider, with a heartfelt and considered response. I didn't even get a reply. I emailed again, making them aware of how disappointed I was in this lack of response to such an important issue as pregnancy discrimination."

Decombel went on to point out that not only is pregnancy discrimination illegal, it also discourages women from pursuing high-powered or high-profile careers.

As it turns out the Nov. 26 conference was cancelled, due to the lockdown in Brussels, but once the word got out about Decombel's experience, Twitter went off with a #7monthspregnant hashtag. Women shared photos and comments about the many things they were able to do while they were in the later stages of pregnancy:

This is me at 7 months preggers interviewing Jay Alexander (Ms. Jay) from Project Runway:

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Yesterday, the organization apologized to Decombel:

What do you think about Decombel being banned from the conference? What were you doing at 7 months pregnant?


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.