I had the opportunity of attending a fireside chat with one of our senior women Managing Directors on Friday. Now I have always spoken about the lack of women role models in the corporate world and I am a firm believer that every woman needs her kin. While there are fantastic male role models and mentors , their journeys have never been the same as that of a female leader. When you hear a female leader speak about her struggles being the lone woman in a boardroom of 20, the mom who struggled to balance it out, the single woman with her head held high , you can actually relate to her stories.
Post the program there was a networking session over coffee and everyone surrounded the woman leader to have a few words about the topics covered. We spoke about how times have changed in the past few years, women are more ambitious about their career, in fact going through gruelling years of studies in courses like CA (Chartered accountancy) where the pass percentage is a mere 5%, once upon a time women used to say “if we don’t pass, we will get married” but today their focus is solely on studies and cracking the tough exams. Marriage is something they don’t even think of at this stage.
The focus of organisations on gender diversity coupled with work from home, day care facilities, manager sensitisation programs are all welcome steps in enabling women to stay in the workforce instead of taking a break which is the biggest challenge seen and is responsible for the skewed ratio as we move higher up the ladder.
But is this enough? How about the support system which plays a vital role in keeping the woman in the workforce. Some of us are lucky to have parents, in laws, relatives around, the rest rely on maids, nannies, daycares. In India we are fortunate to have affordable help in the form of maids, cooks, cleaners, nannies etc. The day cares are pretty flexible in terms of timings and many provide pick up and drop. You have tuition classes to help your child cope with studies. But is it enough? Despite the help available it is the woman of the house to who has to answer the million dollar question each day without fail “what will be cooked today?”, planning the menu, all meals, tiffin boxes, stocking up, all the special days in school that kids have and prepping for them, looking after homework, studies- I do not say its a blanket thing prevalent that its only moms who look after this. There might be dads who do their share of work but the question is –how many? Is this the norm? Do men really do their due- which is 50% of the housework, given that they are no longer the sole breadwinner and its women who is equally working hard to put meals on the table.
One of the participants took offence to my comments and immediately retorted with a angry look “I am buying diapers for my child since 3 years, what are you talking ma’am, times have changed”
Well good that you buy diapers but hope you are also helping change the soiled nappies, look after the laundry basket, how about project day at school, PTM’s, giving instructions to the maid about what to cook- how often you do indulge in all this?
When I attended Parents Day at my 5 year old’s school I saw 4 Dads and 22 Moms, while I cheer the Dads who decided to come and spend the day with their child at school, I wondered why was the ratio so skewed, it was clearly not just “Mom’s Day”.
There is workload that moms carry all along, when they are at work, in that meeting, having a cup of coffee in the pantry, working on a deadline or staring at their screens- this needs to be shifted and that will only happen when Dads step up and do their due, at least start doing it. And not feign ignorance or look up with disdain when someone points out that its not enough.
And a word for the women too- don’t let them remain “a man child”. Don’t kill yourself trying to be a super woman this is a “myth”. Such a creature does not exist in reality. Set the right example for your little boy and girl who are watching. Do it for yourself so that you walk up with your head held high – the fact that you have your identity matters a lot.
What do you think of this subject, its a contentious one but eager to hear your thoughts. Do you see men stepping up and the question is how many? Is its somewhere we women responsible for this state of affairs for we call this upon ourselves? Or is it like some of my friends say ‘he just doesn’t do it, I get fed up and have to do it myself as I cant really leave stuff with kids around”? How would you deal with such a lousy spouse?
Note- I hope to write more often, its been really busy at work with me taking up a bigger and more challenging role but hey there are a host of experiences especially as the only woman in this role. I hope to share my thoughts on varied subjects and hear from you in the coming weeks. Till then Merry Christmas!