I was given the above topic to write on for a competition. I didn’t win but here is my futile attempt:
What is common in the following list of people?
Apart from being of the same gender the common string that connects them is, they have successfully broken the ‘glass ceiling’ in a country known for its male dominance from pre-historic times. Not only India, even the so-called developed countries have shown burning examples of implicit gender discrimination. A woman walking past the office on her way to the cabin of CEO can be a very average scene in the mind of average human being but it is still very uncommon.
According to an old survey by ‘Businessworld’, women earn just 80% of their peers’ earnings in the first year out of college. At the ten year mark this figure drops to 69%. A trend has also been seen that in office culture single women are more preferred than married ones. Although many MNCs are trying to bridge the gap by some positive initiative, glass ceiling still remain a cliché. Even if they break the initial barrier the climb is very steep for them compared to their so-called stronger counterparts.
The underlying problem with ‘Glass Ceiling’ is that it is never considered official and always as matter-of-factly been ignored by women themselves. It is very hard to eradicate a problem which is still considered a myth. The silence has always been considered as a woman’s weakness. In the book ‘Connect The Dots’ by Rashmi Bansal, a women herself, mentioned only two women, out of twenty inspiring stories, who started their own business and are successful against all odds. Not because she is biased against her own identity but because it portrayed the dearth of bold risk takers among women.
Some employers prefer male employees over women as they doubt their commitment, sincerity and ability to work hard. The company does not want to invest in women talent pool as they believe that women will quit as soon as they tie the sacred knot or to take care of their children or elderly parents. This is a virtual reality as a woman quits because of the lack of opportunity to grow in a male dominated environment or unfair analysis of her dedication.
A recent survey by Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) gives us some hard facts to chew, which breaks the prevalent myth of gender equality. The study found that lack of confidence and lower career expectations are the main reasons of holding them back. Although the corporate workforce has a gender diversity of 50-50, only 12 % of the managerial positions are commanded by the fairer sex. So this time also the blame game is lost by women as they are considered responsible for this invisible barrier. Although it has been scientifically proven that women are good at multitasking they are still avoided to endow with great responsibility. Lack of role models increases the seriousness of the unjust appraisal of achievements.
Different strict laws have been introduced and implemented to ensure equality in wages and position. These laws have only served the purpose to solve the problem in the entry-level scenario. To cope up with the ‘effect’ we have to find the ‘cause’. We have to analyse the situation at granular level. Solution cannot be derived from compliance but from commitment of both women and men. Although we speak and formulate rules in favour of equality, at the grass-root level the superiority of a woman always haunts a man. Thus an environment gets created in the workplace which is not favourable for a woman to ‘Realise her potential’. This can be changed if we change the mind-set of the society. We have to develop a warm atmosphere of trust, not of hostility. It is not the responsibility of a single person or a single gender to bring this change and this change cannot be brought drastically because of faint visibility of the unspoken discrimination. The change must be brought from within and the way we help the children to grow irrespective of their gender. In corporate level the change can be ensured by eradication of fear, efficient mentorship and constant encouragement to break the glass ceiling. Voices must be heard and initiatives must be taken whole-heartedly.
On a personal note, I work in a team of 9 out of which 6 are women. My module leader and team leader are women. I feel blessed and proud.