BarAThon, Blog Challenge

Lord of the Files snips my work wings | #barathon |

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This was an interesting art insallation at the Kochi Biennale 2016-2017 on Man and machines.
| Location: Fort Kochi|
| Shoot Date: March 2017 |

When I wanted to flex my career wings and step out of the homely cocoon to find work in a metropolis like New Delhi, I faced vociferous objections from the parental authorities.

“It’s unsafe for women!”

“Men prey on a women’s vulnerabilities and coerce them to do things.”

“Marriage and kids is a safer/better thing. Work here for as long as you want, till we find a good match.”

“Working in a school is a best bet for a woman…….”

But I persisted and won…. or so I thought. I was sent only after I agreed on the million injunctions, agreed to stay with relatives and work in a relatives office only.

After a year of this, everyone got used to it, and I was allowed a little independence in choosing where I want to work. Eventually got a place of mine too.

I have to admit, and it galls me to say it that my parents were right on most of those prejudices over men and women working side by side in an office.

I have worked in places where I faced bizarre situations from the Lord of Files ( boss/reporting manager-male ) over my dressing sense, social attitude and ability to push myself more to work. His attitude, of course, trickled down to the lowest of the staff (males) and made my work tough and life tougher.

I was judged as fast because I showed my legs in a skirt, my arms in a sleeveless, wore form-fitting trousers but never wore sarees; shalwar kameez on rare occasions. Fast meant I was here to have fun and thats code for not good enough to be given a serious responsibility.

I laughed and spoke with my male colleagues, discussed work issues with confidence and was open to working late and travel alone for work. Again all translated as a modern bold woman who could be asked out for a drink and….. non compliance to this resulted in being passed over for promotions, pulled up in meetings and being handed dirty meaningless jobs to do too.

In general, women have to work harder to prove their worth for it all works against them.

If single, then it’s thought she is passing time till she finds a groom, so serious work positions are reluctantly given, if at all. Age and looks are also taken into account while assigning her work as she may not look old enough to be taken seriously by clients.

If married, she will have excuses to take time off as she has a family to take care of, so let’s not put too demanding job role on her shoulders. Plus maternity is not far behind so her ambition is not as committed as a man’s.

If a woman leaves office on time and avoids office social dos, doesn’t drink with the team- her commitment to work is again questioned.

Why do bosses/ HR have such starkly different perspective to evaluate work commitment, simply because the gender changes?

I can recall one VP HR who advised a friend (while headhunting her) that since the “bread and butter” is being taken care of by her husband, she can afford to take a pay cut as her salary is the “jam”.

And all this bullshit is given when the women are juggling (successfully) 2-3 roles of being a housewife, mother and her office workload. Yet instead of being appreciated for being so resourceful, this all is held against her!

When I chose to go freelance, I looked for networking connects and referrals from my business peers. One advise that I won’t forget was  “90% of business deals happen on a golf course, so start playing golf!” Might I add, this was said with a smirk and a wink!

This shaming of women based on her gender and held against her commitment to work is ridiculously bigoted and needs to change big time.

Come support this initiative with your opinion if you feel strongly about body/image shaming; for I am hosting folks writing their experiences, opinions on this topic on my blog for next few weeks.

This post has been written for the Fourth prompt of the #BarAThon “Lord of Files” – Gender inequality in work places is so unfair to women and I feel very strongly about it!

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You can Catch the other posts in this series here:

Day1: The Fault in our Stares

Day2: The Life of Pie

Day3: Of Ice and Men 

Day3.5: #Guestpost by Artist Shubhra Chaturvedi 

Day4: War and pieces



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47 thoughts on “Lord of the Files snips my work wings | #barathon |

  1. Oh I empathise completely. My journey was similar to yours in that I was born and brought up in a small city but my parents knew I’d be stepping out to work. But I got the same warnings and found them only too true. Truly – its the men who need to be emancipated not the women.
    PS: I’m loving your series for the Barathon.

    1. Thank you so so much Tulika for liking this series – I am so happy to hear this as I feel very strongly about this issue and wish could do more fo rit! Do check out the guestposts being posted in the same series – next one coming up tomorrow by an adman who feels a zero figure is not the call for perfect adverstising and its time that was changed.
      My empathies with your working goals and I know you survived them just as I did – I am a no-holds barred person at work and have a reputation to be a drgaon – happy with this as it makes men think twice today. 😉

  2. It’s the unfortunate reality, Shalini. Even though many skills have nothing to do with gender, these biases are an everyday challenge we women face. However, I choose to be optimistic that this will change, though it will take time.

    1. Yes Shanaya – hoping for that change to come in leaps and bounds as at the smaller levels, women are still a mistreated lot in the name of being made to work hard! Men have no qualms about exploiting women at work, show disrespect in the name of seniority and make a woman’s life very very difficult! I hope for that change to come soon too!! Cheers

  3. Corporate politics and manipulations are true.. your post makes me angry.. though i have not faced any of these personally yet since i am relatively new to the job scene.. i have heard and witnessed a lot many stories and cases…

    1. Oh I am glad you havebt faced it and I hope you dont!! Stay strong and to the point with your colleagues especially male ones; you are there to work and soar high; not lick ass and make points!! Thanks for your anger too, it helps to have this support 🙂

  4. I wish I could say this does not happen always. Unfortunately, even if not blatantly, there are subtle ways in which a woman employee is discriminated at work. So, very sad!

    1. Thanks Uma- yes its a very sad thing but something we Indian women have faced and braved a lot over the years. Hopefully things are changing now!!!

  5. Parents are often right not because they are your parents but just because they’ve lived longer and more importantly KNOW YOU very well – possibly even better than you know yourself. Incidentally as far as children are concerned, parents are always WRONG just because they are your parents!

  6. Sad to hear this… I so wish I could say that ‘its 2017. This doesn’t happen anymore’ but every fiber in my being knows it is still a harsh reality and one that just refuses to go away.

    1. Yeah Roshan – sad even as this is to hear/read about; rarely does anyone support or step up in this case for their colleague! HR policies are so biased about such complaints that women are often hesitant of being labelled as “difficult” by HR and so remain shut about it – the men get away with it , perpetuating a viscious cycle!!!

  7. Agree with this one hands down – in the corporate world for the past 10 years and the prejudices women have fo face to get the same promotion as man, the compulsion to socialise and the outlook that they are working just for time pass as the man brings home the bread – is all so disguising

    1. I hear you Akshata – its truly disgusting and a struggle for me as a woman to stay afloat in this biased corporate world to earn my living! Maybe someday I will become a vigilante!!! 😉

  8. I agree this gender bias needs to change! We are living in such a world where we can video call, but this feeling of loookg at women as an object still stays!
    High time this changes!

    1. Yes Z high time it changes but its so tough to change it!! Men know that and so get away with it all the time!

  9. Sadly, all this still happens. Few years back, the company I used to work for, organized a huge AR Rahman concert and all employees had to take part in ticket sales. A female colleague of mine (a fresher) bemoaned that she was asked by our boss to stand in a kiosk outside a mall, all alone, between 7 pm to 10 pm for selling tickets. When, as her senior, I confronted our boss he replied nonchalantly, ‘if she is not capable of such a small task, how can I trust her with difficult ones?’

    Very well written post that hits the nail right on its head. Well done. Cheers, Varad.

    1. Oh thats horrible to hear Varad – I do feel for that woman and good on you to take it up with the boss! Thank you for appreciating my post so much – it feels so good to write about it after suffering from it for years!! Cheers

    1. Thanks so much Balaka- you have been such a regular on my blog! I so so appreciate your support!! 🙂

  10. We are a long way from gender equality when it comes to work life. The attitude is surprising and agonizing. But I truly hope that it will change as more women join the workforce and continue without inhibitions.

  11. Women do have to work extra hard to be seen as competent as a male. Our country is still stuck in time… A confused lot who are not even sure how much the world has evolved outside in terms of gender equality. I feel bad that you had to work with such sorry managers.

    1. Thanks Raj – I guess what didnt break me, made me stronger!!! 😉 But yes its a sad state of affairs when you go out to work here in India – why men have this notion that women at work are easy prey is beyond my intellect!

  12. That’s the stark reality of our world, I have gone through the similar situations so rightly mentioned in your post..coming from a small town in U.P., first I was taken as small town girl and later with God knows what all adjectives. But one thing I always stick to that my mum once told me – ‘they talk bec you are worth talking, so don’t give them your ear and space in mind, they are truly not worth it’. I am kinda stuck to it… but yes judging is a poignant reality everywhere. Another Brave One Shalz, Kudos to you

    here’s mine –

    1. Thanks so so much for such appreciation! More power to your mom and I will also keep these pearls in mind to deal with such peeps in future!! 🙂

  13. Have heard a lot of discrimination at work, but incidentally, have not experienced it personally. May be because, in brand management, we are all girls with one or two guys. But have faced the regular politics and manipulative strategies, which has become the order of the day.
    Have friends who have faced discrimination at work related to salary, increments, promotions, work load, snide remarks and indecent proposals too. Sad that this happens despite they being capable and efficient.

    1. Ahh lucky you and hope the streak continues Shilpa!! Its a frustrating thing to be faced with in the work sphere and puts so much more pressure for work perfomrance than required!

  14. I’d say this is lesser in our area or maybe the places I have worked in, people were better. But I do know that this still happens. A lot. Sad reality.

    1. Thanks so much for the appreciation! Yes you are indeed lucky to have escaped this behaviour and I hope it stays that ways for you!

  15. I have thankfully not experienced this sort of discrimination in either of my jobs. Maybe because I worked in a highly technical field? All that mattered was who got the work done. But I did have a problem getting a job when I was pregnant because I chose to tell the HR that I was expecting, in a company that had known me, valued and appreciated me for 5 years. I get their line of view, but yeah differences do exist.

    1. Thanks Namrata – doesnt it hurt when companies de-value your worth like that? Its as if our personal life is of no consequence to them and its better if we dont have one, for then we will concentrate fully on work only!

  16. I have read a lot about gender discrimination at work, but haven’t experienced it first hand as I worked in a school where we were mostly women, pushing each other to just go for it!
    It is indeed sad that such attitudes exist today, esp since we say that we are an emerging super power (are we, really?)
    Times and attitudes need to change, but, when and how they will undergo the change is a big mystery.
    And, yes, parents are almost always right! That’s one truth we need to accept!

  17. It is much more difficult to change the male mindset, in my opinion. Women judge too but the men are harsher and they are ever ready to prove how women are in the wrong when women rebuff them or show how assertive they are. Its sad and something that women constantly need to prove they are good enough at every level to be considered on par with their male counterparts. Off with patronising I say, we need men to accept that women are equals and that they should not be judged on the basis of the standards that a regressive society sets for them. Two steps forward and four steps backward, is not the way forward in any way.

    1. Yup – you are absolutely right Esha! This patronising behaviour is at the root of this issue and I guess counselling, training and talks within the company might help a bit to educate peeps about this and see every point of view on it!

  18. I to come from a small city and good for me that I stepped into the big bad world a little more unknowingly. Ignorance actually remained a bliss until I started understanding the underlying messages. But once I understood, it was easy to nip things. I agree with the challenges and I wish all women could fight for themselves.

    1. Small city girls are taken to be the idiots Parul – I faced a lot of patronising nonsense cause of it. Thankfully I am “difficult” in temperament so could say NO n blow it off. But I hear you – wish more women stood up for themselves!!!

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