It is not easy for women to get equal opportunities at the workplace to display their potential and talent, due to gender bias. Women often face discrimination at workplace in the form of wage gaps, fewer opportunities, or limited recognition. In order to break the ‘glass ceiling,’ they have to fight several gender stereotypes and overcome the family and social pressure to prioritize family life over work. Thus if you are a mother, it becomes even more difficult to re-start your career.

To shed some light on some of these challenges SheThePeople.TV invited Vaishali Nigam Sinha and Nishtha Satyam for a Twitter chat. Vaishali is the Founder-Director of iCharity and Chief Sustainability, CSR and Communications Officer at ReNew Power. Nishtha, on the other hand, is Deputy Country Representative UN Women India MCO. Talking about various challenges women face at the workplace,  they shared their advice on how women can excel in their field of work. 

Also Read: Is Unpaid Work The Biggest Hurdle To Women’s Economic Participation?

What is a “woman’s job”?

Satyam elaborated how women are largely boxed into more “feminine” roles, even at the workplace.”Typical fields would be care work (eg.nursing/child-care), beauticians, secretarial/first-line admin roles, soft beats, elementary teaching, flight attendants etc,” she wrote.

The division of labour on the basis of gender is an old patriarchal practice where work is divided on the basis of gender prejudice rather than on the basis of skill. That is why men are still seen as breadwinners and women restricted mostly to caregiving roles. Satyam elaborated how women were largely boxed into more “feminine” roles, even at the workplace.”Typical fields would be care work (eg.nursing/child-care), beauticians, secretarial/first-line admin roles, soft beats, elementary teaching, flight attendants etc,” she wrote. Adding to this Vaishali pointed out that often the job profile of a “homemaker” is associated with women. That’s why choosing other career options and exploring our potential becomes very important for women to change this discriminatory mindset.

Read Also: Introducing gender lens investing. It’s more than pink-washing

Declining participation of women in workforce

A substantial decline has been observed in the number of employed women in the workforce in India. From limitations imposed by the family to an unsafe working environment, there are a number of reasons behind this decline. According to Vaishali, “We’re just not doing enough. This isn’t a one-dimensional problem. While more women opt to continue education, job opportunities are not commensurate with highly qualified people. Lack of suitable roles and poor pay parity also make an impact,” she further added, “Even the management fails to create a safer environment for women, which is not discriminatory towards the women employees”.

Sexist practices in the workplace often end up creating a hostile environment for women employees. Generally, these practices are so deeply engraved that employers or colleagues do not even realise that they are being sexist. Satyam said, “Misogyny (sexist humor), sex-based division of roles, and any work/institutional policy or culture that unduly makes it difficult for women to work needs to be eliminated.”

More Women At Work Space

In order to eradicate these differences, it is important to recognise and encourage more and more women employees.  To establish this equality Nishtha suggested that employers should “provide equal opportunities with equal pay for women. Also safer workplace by ensuring safety in mobility to work.”  Vaishali pointed out that important it is to make these current working women stay. Often due to their family commitments, they have to opt-out from their jobs. That’s why it is important to build  “flexible work polices”.

The best way to end this wage disparity problem is to just go out there and ask for what you deserve. Examine your potential and demand accordingly. Negotiating for promotions and increment is the right of every employee, irrespective of their gender.

Read Also: Feminism, breaking glass ceiling, stereotypes and the next step

A Mother-Friendly Workplace

Most people in our society still believe that it is a mother’s responsibility to take care of the children in a children. Due to family pressure of internalisation of conditioning, women tend to drop out of work to care for their children. According to Vaishali, this mindset can be changed by equal participation of both the parents. “By encouraging men to take the lead in sharing parental responsibilities – e.g. equal parental leave for both parents. Let the onus not be only on the mother. Also, having back to work programmes and a little support and appreciation,” Vaishali wrote. It is important to make a mother-friendly environment at the workspace by having a creche facility or proper maternity leave for women.

Picture Credit: Vaishali Sinha and Nishtha Satyam

Also Read: Each Child Costs A Woman At Least Three Years Of Her Work Life

Divya Tripathi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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