Sen. Elizabeth Warren has come under fire again for possibly lying about her employment history. In 2017, it was revealed that Warren historically had claimed to be Native American, despite her ancestry ranging from 1/64 Native American to 1/1,024. Some critics have claimed that Warren’s fabricated identity earned her gigs she might not have otherwise received.
Now, as a result of detailed reporting by Jeryl Bier, Warren’s past as a special education teacher is coming under scrutiny due to the 2020 candidate telling conflicting versions of her eventual departure from the job. At a campaign event a few months back, the Massachusetts senator discussed how she was released from a special needs teaching job by her male supervisor due to the fact that she was “visibly pregnant.”
‘I loved it [the job], and I would probably still be doing it today but back in the day, before unions, the principal, by the time we got to the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant,’ she said. ‘And the principal did what principals did in those days: they wished you luck, showed you the door, and hired someone else for the job. And there went my dream.’
Warren’s story intended to underscore the type of sexual discrimination that women might face in the workforce as a result of pregnancy. But her story is inconsistent with a rendition that she shared with previous audiences.
As Bier reports, 12 years ago, at a University of California at Berkeley event titled “Conversations with History,” Warren attributed her job loss to failing to have the proper training to continue her job; up to that point, she had relied upon an “emergency certificate” to teach.
I was married at nineteen and graduated from college after I’d married, and my first year post-graduation I worked in a public school system with the children with disabilities. I did that for a year, and then that summer I didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an ’emergency certificate,’ it was called. I went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out for me.’ I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years, and I was really casting about, thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ My husband’s view of it was, ‘Stay home. We have children, we’ll have more children, you’ll love this.’ And I was very restless about it.
Warren’s initial tale probably would have served as an effective push for occupational licensing reform more than anything else. But, as Bier points out, her later depiction paints a far more troubling picture—a woman forced to forfeit her dreams due to a male boss discriminating against her for being pregnant. Instead of featuring a woman in need of credentials and still unsure about her career path, the second version—and the one she continues to peddle—highlights an act of discrimination and the destruction of a woman’s career ambitions.
As Bier points out, Warren has shared the second version at multiple events this year alone—in May at a speaking engagement at Laney College, and in mid-September during a Democratic primary debate. Prior to that, she told the more gut-wrenching version both in her 2014 book “A Fighting Chance” and at a National Women’s Law Center event in 2017.
Both of Warren’s employment snafus point to perhaps a larger problem—a willingness to falsify history in order to gain admission into a protected class of individuals, whether it be identifying as a Native American or as a working pregnant woman. In both instances, Warren didn’t merely tweak details in order to tell a more compelling story; rather, she invented elements that became pivotal to telling the story itself.
Unsurprisingly, not one left-leaning mainstream media outlet has challenged Warren’s claim of employment discrimination, despite numerous speeches on the record revealing a glaring discrepancy between the two versions she has put forth. But, as Michael Brendan Dougherty has argued in National Review in relation to Warren’s false claims to Native American heritage, people should care about these instances. Indeed, enough of them placed together paint an unflattering picture about what Warren thinks is suitable to fake in order to paint herself in a more sympathetic light.
We should support women who face discrimination as a result of being pregnant and speak openly against such bad-faith practices. One way we can do that is by challenging those who might falsely claim to be victims of such discrimination.