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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Indian Women get a raw deal in India Inc

Want to know how many women occupy top positions in corporate India? According to a Catalyst report, 4.9% are board directors, 3%-6% are in senior management. This is out of the 22.6 % women who are employed by organizations. We make a grand total of 36% in the overall labour force. This is all set to change because India Inc. is expanding and looking to hire more women this year, especially in the retail, telecom, hospitality, banking, energy, outsourcing, and infrastructure sectors.

Among many reasons why there is this gender inequality, one of the main ones is that women are labeled as “less assertive,” “less competitive,” and “less aggressive” in meeting the demands of a business situation. This quote from the study resonates with me because a male colleague once said I was aggressive, and so I told him that when men are aggressive, they are considered ambitious and when women are aggressive, they are considered bitches! This very dichotomy has been highlighted in this report.

If you scan the statistics on Page 8 of the report, they are an eye-opener, as they clearly show that as women age, get married and have kids, they progressively drop out of the job market. Also, there are fewer women in the ranks, working in the 5-10 plus years timeline, while prior to that – women who had worked for less than 5 years ranked at 92.9% while men were at 86.1%. What’s more, 64.6% women had a masters degree as compared to 59.2% of men. The dropout rate is high despite the fact that more women leaders in India (51.2%) were likely to have prioritized work compared to their female counterparts in the United States (24.9%) and Europe (28.1%).

Women in India (along with those in the US and Europe) stated that these barriers hampered their career advancement:
•Lack of key relationships: not having a sponsor, mentor, or champion; being excluded from important networks of key decision-makers
•Not receiving tough, honest feedback on performance
•Not understanding the unspoken company politics well enough
•Not having access to important or special job assignments that are highly valued by higher level managers

What was surprising was that more single/widowed/married Indian women were working than was the case in the US and Europe, across the same parameters.

The report sums up the key issues really well. Here is part of it...“respondents
wished they had known that “just” working hard is not enough to succeed or that they had been more aware of organizational politics and about the advantages of self-promotion. Regardless of gender and ethnicity, unwritten rules play a major role in career advancement. Career strategies involving communication and feedback, performance, career planning, increasing visibility, and relationship building were particularly important to career advancement. The most effective strategies to learn the unwritten rules for advancement in the workplace were observation, seeking out mentors,and soliciting feedback.”

“Talented employees expect their work to add value to the business, and they will not work to the exclusion of the other priorities in their lives. They want to work smart and be recognized for their contributions.”

Read more from this report here - http://catalyst.org/file/408/leadership_gender_gap_in_india-final.pdf


Vidyanand Garg said...

Very precise observations on the situation of working women in India.Thank you.
I think , a part of the situation as it prevails , is due to the fact that working women are a minority in almost all the organizations , and suffer from all those disadvantages which minorities suffer .The numbers need to be balanced.What are the other possible things that can be done ?

Blognostic said...

Situation is improving. Indian women are on a upward curve. :)

Kannan said...

Good post.