Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, on Monday stood by her claim that she lost a teaching job in 1971 because she was pregnant after she was pushed on the subject in an interview with CBS News over changes in her phrasing of the story over the years.
Warren has retold the story numerous times while on the campaign trail, recalling how she was not given a job she had been previously promised at Riverdale Elementary School in New Jersey when she became pregnant. She had worked at the school for one year.
“All I know is I was 22 years old, I was 6 months pregnant, and the job that I had been promised for the next year was going to someone else. The principal said they were going to hire someone else for my job,” Warren told CBS News in an interview.
The outlet raised questions about the story after a previous interview in 2007 showed Warren telling the same story without the phrase “showed me the door,” which she has used while repeating the story on the campaign trail.
In the 2007 interview at the University of California, Berkeley, Warren said, “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,” according to CBS.
Warren said she hadn’t noticed that she had changed the phrasing.
She addressed the differences on Monday, telling CBS she has decided to “open up” about her past since her election to the Senate in 2012.
“After becoming a public figure I opened up more about different pieces in my life and this was one of them. I wrote about it in my book when I became a U.S. Senator,” Warren told CBS in a statement from her campaign.
CBS News cites a story from The Paterson News, a local paper, that reported that summer Warren was “leaving to raise a family” and another story said Warren “resigned for personal reasons.”
Warren repeated to CBS News that she had been offered the job for the following year, while she was hiding her pregnancy, and several months later when she “was six months pregnant and it was pretty obvious” the principal said he would hire someone else.
“When someone calls you in and says the job that you’ve been hired for for the next year is no longer yours, ‘We’re giving it to someone else,’ I think that’s being shown the door,” Warren said in the Monday interview.
CBS News said two retired teachers who worked for Riverdale Elementary for more than 30 years, including the year Warren was there, told CBS News they believed a nontenured pregnant employee like Warren would have had little job security at the school in 1971.
“The rule was at five months you had to leave when you were pregnant. Now, if you didn’t tell anybody you were pregnant, and they didn’t know, you could fudge it and try to stay on a little bit longer,” one teacher, Trudy Randall, told CBS. “But they kind of wanted you out if you were pregnant.”
A spokesperson for the Warren campaign was not immediately available for comment.
Warren has risen to the top of the primary field, alongside former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Warren often discusses being a young working mother and going back to school to advocate for her progressive agenda, including free four-year college tuition, an ambitious student loan forgiveness program and a sweeping plan for affordable child care.