In her TikTok — which has over 16 million views — Dr. Mehta explains how she was asked if she planned on having kids during a job interview. She hesitantly took the job, only to feel like she was treated differently because she was a woman.
Things got worse after she got pregnant, but she continued working hard — even going back six weeks after giving birth.
Six months later, when she got pregnant again, her employer started to push her out. Luckily, she hired legal help, and, for the next couple of years, she focused on work until she was able to open her own practice.
In the comments of her video, a high amount of working moms — particularly those in the medical field — spoke out about how much they related to Dr. Mehta's experience.
So BuzzFeed spoke to Dr. Mehta to get more insight on her specific experience and what being a working mom means to her.
"When my former employer asked me if I planned to have kids, I was frustrated because I knew I would be penalized for saying yes, yet I still wanted the job because it was a coveted position. I also knew the question was illegal, but that is just how it goes — a lot of questions are asked of women in the workplace that are not legal, and we just have to deal with it."
And as Dr. Mehta said in her TikTok, she eventually had to hire an attorney to help with the workplace issues that she faced after having children. "Gender and pregnancy discrimination is very hard to prove — which is what most lawyers told me. My past employer tried to take the route of making me look like a bad doctor and surgeon through various mechanisms (even though I was the third-highest producer of surgical volume, and my patients loved me), so I had to get an attorney to help me with defamation."
"Orthopedic surgery is a field traditionally full of white males. Only about 6% of orthopedic surgeons in the US are females — and even less are minority females like myself. Society and this country do not support working women having children, and I faced even more of this struggle being in a traditionally male-dominated field," she explained.
Dr. Mehta's biggest message for women is to know that they can design a life that incorporates both family and a career if they want those things. "In this country — especially in medicine — we do not support young women with aspirations to have a family, and we don't support young mothers when they come back from maternity leave. I hope to advocate for a change in our country's maternity leave policy to resemble that of other first-world countries. I hope to bring awareness to this issue and for women to feel they are not alone in this struggle," she said.
"Women are an important and necessary part of the workforce," said Dr. Mehta, adding, "We need to make accommodations for women (and men) to take time to bond with their babies and heal after childbirth. People who have a life outside of their job are happier people at work."
And the message Dr. Mehta has for her previous employer who treated her so wrongly is simple. "To that employer — or any employer — who tries to push out women because of having children: There will come a day when women are treated equally and respectfully in the workplace, and we will not stop until we have that equality."
Special thanks to Dr. Mehta for advocating for women in the workplace and for sharing her experience! You can follow her on TikTok and Instagram.