Women have always been considered to be natural mothers who have the in-built ability to nurture, care and multi-task. This notion has moved from the household to the office front where there exists a wide belief that women make better managers than men. This notion is also backed by a 40 year long research done by Gallup, which included an analysis of the responses of 27 million employees proving that women managers had outperformed their male counterparts in driving the employee engagement. But this research focuses only on one aspect of the employer ─ employee relationship which according to Gallup, focusses on employees who were enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace, making the research only one part of the bigger picture.
Yes, we do have Indian women entrepreneurs who are basically high level managers like Ekta Kapoor, Anita Shroff, Sherry Shroff and more. But, in the Fortune 1000 most successful CEOs, there were only 54 women which is less than 10%. So, when we look at the everyday picture of women in the managerial force, we find a different picture altogether. India, being a patriarchal society, sexism strives even in this day and age. We find that children are conditioned early on to abide strongly by their gender norms and roles. Usually, girls are conditioned to be nurturing, calm, composed, and are even considered to be more hardworking in the earlier fronts of education than boys, because of the clear notion that boys will be boys.
This, all the while keeping in our mind that the ratio between boys and girls in most classrooms are 40:20 respectively. This keeps continuing as they go ahead with their education and career. Girls are usually seen to take jobs that are considered to need the characteristics associated with femininity and care-giving like teaching, nursing and so on. On the other hand, jobs that need leadership qualities, which in our everyday life we associate with assertiveness and aggression, is pushed onto the boys’ shoulders. This inevitably weighs on every gender and what is expected from them, and acts as the basis for bias and prejudice when hiring and dealing with employees or even employers.
As a proof of this, women hold less than 1/4 of the senior level managerial posts in the world, and the percentage of women has only been declining, according to recent statistics. Though in the last year, we did have at least 75% of companies with at least one woman in the senior level posts, which has seen a rise from the past 66% in 2017, there still exists around 25% of companies with no women in the senior level posts. This may be attributed to the whole ideology that men are better descriptions of managerial skills such as leadership, organization and time management. There are multiple instances where the same opinion output of different genders are perceived differently. For example, on one hand, women are considered to be loud, attention seeking, aggressive for voicing out suggestions or opinions.
On the other hand, men are considered to be assertive and as those who are capable of taking charge. This kind of prejudice exists from the beginning, with the selection of the employee at the interview level to attaining promotions and achieving upward mobility in the hierarchy. Apart from this, even in women who do get to a managerial level post, we find that the problem of wage gap still exists and is justified in terms of maternity leave and notions like ‘women may be distracted and less productive as they have to take care of the household and office work’, and ‘women do not need the same as men, as they are not the sole breadwinners of the family’. Apart from this, even if women do get to one of the managerial levels they have responsibilities and duties weighing on their shoulders which they have to take care of.
Most of these are related to prioritizing their families over work and are usually pushed off as personal choices taken by the women, but sometimes they may be a forced decision. They lack the support, socially and financially, which further just slows their rate of professional progression. Skills, education, experience and practical knowledge should play an important role in the attainment of jobs and achieving upward mobility, rather than unrelated factors like gender, caste, religion, sexual orientation or race. But a situation like this would only occur in an idealistic world, which is far from the present day realities. It is high time that we move away from such notions and focus on the individual rather than their gender.
Picture Courtesy- Inc.com