Working Women: To be or not to be

Written By

Viji Hari

Working women Loading

Some introductory stats: As per Indian census 2011,

  • Women contribute to 45% of the College population ~ 50 Million
  • Women in the workforce in the age group 20 to 30 is at 30% ~ 20 Million
  • Women in the Manager roles are at 18% ~ 13 Million

At the global level,

  • Women currently hold 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at those S&P 500 companies.

A lot of women drop out after they are married or post-maternity. This is in large part because women in India continue to shoulder the burden of childcare or elder care. At the same time, many employers fail to provide adequate maternity and childcare support to working mothers.

There are multiple studies that have proven that companies with women in leadership roles perform better because of their ability to focus on the big picture, strong focus on the interpersonal relationships, healthy risk awareness, social responsibility, and empathy – and hence the emphasis on the finding/hiring more women and grooming them for leadership roles.

I was recently in a Diversity Summit in Bangalore. It was awe-inspiring to meet and listen to all the lovely ladies from across India Inc., holding various leadership roles. We networked over 2 days and the conversations focussed on why and how there are only very few women leaders at the top. Is it the personal challenge of multitasking work and family? Who stops Women from reaching the glass ceiling?

– Is it the tough boardroom dynamics that women are not capable of withstanding?

– Is it our patriarchal society and men who ensure women have a tough time at work and make it highly competitive?

– Is it the gender inequality or lack of equal pay or lack of safety for women that prevents them from taking up demanding roles.

– Or is it the lack of Family or childcare support.

But the actual answer that most of us ended up agreeing on was that it is women themselves who build a fence for their capabilities. It is up to us, women, to build right competencies, right support system, seek help, become part of networking or mentoring groups and focus on the end goals of achieving our objectives. Work on overcoming the societal barriers, choose the battles that are worth fighting for, not fretting about little things, like a perfect super clean home or making that perfect model for your child’s science project, and so on and so forth. Set the rules and expectations right at home and at work.

Nevertheless, it is always ok to take a career break, when the family needs you. Put the break to a great use.

The experience and exposure gained at work help to mold a confident and independent woman. A working woman can contribute better to the household, and can afford to hire a cook or babysitter to take care of the family, thus improving the economy of the household and that of our nation. All said and done, it is a lot of hard work – juggling and multi-tasking. But the end results are definitely worth it.

Work does not always mean a corporate job, it could also be putting your interests or talent to good use – a lot of “work from home” options are cropping up, online portals that provide alternate income source, flexi-jobs. There are multiple freelancing options online freelance.com/fiverr.com/craftsvilla.com etc.

  • I know a couple of homemakers who have consistently been uploading rangoli or cooking videos on YouTube and this provides a viewership based annuity income for their videos
  • There are others who make lovely handicrafts/jewelry/gift items and use the social media or WhatsApp groups effectively for their sales
  • Start a daycare for your apartment children or home food mess for the bachelors/elderly in the apartment
  • Illustrators, bloggers, proof readers… the options are endless
  • Volunteer or teach at your community schools or hobby centers
  • Associate with an NGO, the joy of giving and the feeling of contentment can fill you with joy and pride. There are huge areas that you can support in the form counseling, content creations, a helping hand, a patient ear, teaching, design, distribution, marketing, technical assistance, coordination etc. The question does arise that the above are charitable activities and no personal financial gain. Then again, there are multiple organizations that do these activities as well as raise funds through various sponsorship programs. Be a fundraiser as well as bring other people into your network who can bring in the funds for the team and you.

As one of my girlfriends said, “Nothing is going waste, every little bit of work helps us in building competencies – It’s how we can learn, be consistent and keep working till the inner beauty of your work, emerges.” The opportunities that lie ahead, especially for this generation of women, who are blessed with the gift of language and being tech savvy, even with just our contacts on our phone, is undeniable.

Aim for the sky and hit the glass ceiling. Lean in ladies! And extend that helping hand to other working women in whatever small ways possible.

If India is to become the world’s third largest economy in 2030, it can’t afford to continue bypassing it’s over 600 million women from equal opportunity in the workforce. It is up to us women to extend our support to enhancing our economy.

More power to you all. Stay Independent and stay Happy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Viji Hari is an Author of BCC: Behind Closed Cubicles, CEO and Co-Founder of Kelp HR, a human resources consultancy firm (www.KelpHR.com) and specializes in setting up governance models, prevention and redressal committees of sexual harassment in the corporate world. She is a speaker in several forums on this topic and has conducted awareness workshops across India on the topic of Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Gender and Diversity sensitization. She loves reading, travelling the world to explore and experience the local culture, food, people and places. Connect with Viji at www.vijihari.com. Share your feedback, stories and experiences on this topic at viji@vijihari.com.

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