Most of us are not used to seeing successful men acknowledge women’s success and all the hard work they put in to achieve it. The barriers that women face are gender-specific and multifaceted. Which is why they often even escape male attention. Especially in a patriarchal society like ours, men fail to realise how entitlement and uneven distribution of household chores acts as a big impediment, in professional success for women. But this is why it is important for successful men to acknowledge and celebrate the success of women. And when a man does so, it is equally important to thank him for saying what is mostly left unsaid.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The barriers that women face, when it comes to professional success are gender-specific and multifaceted.
  • The minute a working woman steps into her house, she has to trade her work with the household chores.
  • Women who manage to stay in the workforce despite all the barriers, do not have it easy.
  • When successful men acknowledge that it is indeed tougher for women to succeed at workplace other men sit up and listen.

Industrialist and philanthropist Anand Mahindra recently shared a meme on Twitter, writing how women have to put in greater efforts to succeed than men. “I’ve been helping to baby-sit my year-old grandson this past week and it’s brought home to me the stark reality of this image. I salute every working woman and acknowledge that their successes have required a much greater amount of effort than their male counterparts,” he wrote. A heartfelt thank you, Mr Mahindra, for saying something which many men even fail to register.

When a working woman goes back home, she doesn’t get to put her feet up and relax. Even in 2019, women are primary caregivers to children and have to perform bigger chunk of household duties.

I can’t remember the last time when a successful man acknowledged how the burden of household chores and parenting, is something that women bear more than their male counterparts. Often men fail to make the correlation between women dropping out of the workforce with failure to maintain work-life balance. When a working woman goes back home, she doesn’t get to put her feet up and relax. Even in 2019, women are primary caregivers to children and have to perform bigger chunk of household duties.

So the minute she steps into her house, she has to trade her work with the household chores. Even if she doesn’t wash utensils or mop the floor, she has to fold the laundry and put it away, cook dinner. She must see to her kids’ homework, spend some time with them, feed them and put them to sleep. And then do other odd jobs like tidying up the house, ironing school uniforms, prep for lunch boxes, so on and so forth. Especially with a small child to care for, a working woman is always torn between her duties at home and those at her workplace. So the women who manage to stay in the workforce, beating all the pressure and even temptation to quit, do not have it easy. The battle on multiple fronts to emerge at the top and thus their success stories have an untold aspect. Even today, most men remain unaware of it.

Women who manage to stay in the workforce despite all the barriers, do not have it easy.

But when successful men like Mahindra acknowledge that it is indeed tougher for women to succeed at the workplace, other men sit up and listen. They begin paying attention and try to relate to what a man they admire has said, with what they see. It makes them face a reality which the curtain of privilege had been shielding them from. What we can hope now is that more successful men will point at the unfair odds stacked against working women. That they will speak out about everything from the unfair distribution of household chores, to gender bias in homes and even at workplaces, and how the proverbial glass ceiling still looms over the heads of most working women.

What we aim to achieve from their endorsement isn’t just awareness among other men, but also an impact on corporate policies. The work culture in our country needs to change, if we want our workforce to stop bleeding out talented female employees. The change needs to begin at home. Parents, husbands and in-laws need to change their attitude towards daughters, wives and daughters-in-law. Towards distribution of workload at home. It is women who pay the cost of privileges that our society bestows on men. Unless that changes, it will be a bigger struggle for women to achieve professional success, as compared to men.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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