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!
You can Catch the other posts in this series here: