While a lot many women have jobs today, many don’t really have a career. Many women tend to work jobs to earn a paycheck, not paying attention to their long-term professional goals and how they would like to see themselves grow. It could be attributed to the conditioning we receive – where we need to place out household responsibilities on paramount priority, be the perfect wife, daughter, sister, mother, and what not! This results in women not being taken seriously at work.
The usually male-dominated workspaces assume that women are not career-oriented and will mostly drop out halfway if family responsibility, marriage, or pregnancy comes knocking at the door. Many may argue that the definition of success for a woman is being paid well and able to run the house smoothly. Women employees start with great zeal but settle for much less than they deserve.
Very often, a woman gives in to the social pressures and takes up the responsibilities slapped on her. And that is just one reason why, even when (which is rare, to begin with) a woman gets equal opportunity, she doesn’t aspire for a great career in her life. Here are some of the other reasons that play a part:
While a lot of social awakening is happening around us, the battle of the gender gap is far from won. The current global labor force participation rate for men is 75% and for women is close to 49%. Women also have a harder time finding a job than men which sometimes gives rise to unconditional bias. According to a study by Lean In and McKinsey & Company in 2019, for every 100 men promoted and hired to a manager position, only 72 women are promoted and hired for the same role. The freedom to work according to one’s will is integral to human welfare. If this human welfare is kept in mind, reducing gender gaps could get easy leading to a boost in the country’s GDP.
Lack of mentorship
For advancement in careers, it is crucial that every professional have a mentor. Women are often unable to grow and achieve a C-suite position due to a lack of mentorship. There can be many reasons for it. For starters, senior managers may judge the woman’s status (single or married) before investing their time in her. Then some men are not comfortable in mentoring women employees, having one on one meetings, or providing any sort of feedback. Women can also face situations where colleagues try to take advantage of the name of mentorship. Maybe that’s why 65% of women aged 18-29 say they are “very ambitious” whereas only 49% of women aged 45-54 say the same.
No room for risk
Be it an individual contributor, or a leader – the risk appetite women are able to enjoy is much lower owing to their family responsibilities. It seems almost impossible for us to be able to put our financial independence at risk to take the leap.
Negligence of women’s preferences
No matter how successful a woman is at her work, her preferences are almost always overlooked. Various studies show what women want at work but these choices are heavily overpowered by socio-economic constraints and pressure to conform to traditional gender roles. For example, women often don’t join the workforce as their immediate family disapproves of it. Issues like lack of transport and harassment or sexual assault while traveling can also discourage women from working. Lastly juggling between work and home is a daunting task for most women. Since most of the household responsibilities are expected to be borne by the women, they give up the dreams of having a successful career.
What’s the need of the hour?
The change will not happen in a day. The roles of men and women need to be redefined. Improved wage transparency and gender-neutral job evaluation can be a starting point. Stringent laws must be formed against harassment at work. Adequate maternity protection and job assurance during pregnancy should be provided. On the household front, communities can work together to better educate families about the significance of women and work. In turn, families should encourage women to pursue their choice of career and not just earn and bake bread for the family with no self-satisfaction.
Women are an integral part of the workforce. If only they get assurance and a push to pursue their passion, women can work wonders. The contribution of women in the company and for the country’s economic growth is crucial. It's time we realize, rescript, and redistribute roles and responsibilities in society and not just put the entire burden on women.
(Edited by Neha Baid)