This Women’s Day, I want to talk about equality in opportunities at workplace because this year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual. The focus is on attaining gender equality in boardrooms, governments, media coverage, workplaces, sports coverage, in health and in wealth. So let’s take this opportunity to understand what’s holding women back in this day and age, especially in the field of media, since I have firsthand personal experience to share.
Not breaking the glass ceiling
Let me start by telling you an incident, this happened when I was working for a newspaper, I remember the senior-most woman editor there once said to me, “I need to change track.” When I asked her, “Why? You’re doing pretty well,” she replied, “I have reached where I have to in this organisation, do you think I will ever be given the cabin. No, I will not.” By the cabin, she meant the post of the editor of the newspaper.
That got me thinking of why she won’t be given the post of ‘top boss’? She certainly deserved it. But we all know women in the media have fewer opinions. And they are far less likely to be given leadership roles.
This is because we also know that media has always been a patriarchal field ever since it started. Unfortunately, this has not changed. The number of women as media administrators or journalists is still lower than that of their male counterparts. I believe this is because very few women even aspire to management positions as they have no one to model themselves upon.
Media can be unforgiving for a woman
I remember going for an interview at a media house and being asked if I was married and if I had kids? That was the first time I was facing something like that. If bosses and organisations are going to have biases like this what kind of equality in the boardroom or workplaces are we talking about?
Is this why women in the media prefer not to marry at all or marry late when they are comfortable in their careers? Sure women choose to marry have kids, but does that make them any less of a competent media person? I think not.
What I found surprising was when I spoke to one of my colleagues about this, she said, “Yes I was asked too, that’s because women with family responsibilities tend to take more leaves and don’t prefer to stay back to complete work etc.” Are we normalising this thought process? Isn’t it time that motherhood or marriage wasn’t a contraint for working women? The the workplace evolved to be more accomodative and inclusive?
Also Read: 6 Tips For People Who Choose Work From Home
Unpredictable routine or stay-at-home-mom
When my daughter came into my life, like many women I had to choose between being a stay-at-home-mom or to continue with my job and leave the baby with a caretaker at home. To top it all, my spouse’s transferable job did not help; when he got transferred I chose to move with him, voluntarily, giving up my job as I could not imagine taking care of the baby as well as attending office alone in a metro. Media is a demanding field, with no fixed timings for going or coming back from office.
Though I love the fact that I was able to take a sabbatical for more than four years for my daughter before I took up a job again, yet I feel a tinge of envy when I see my peer group who have moved far ahead during this period. I sometimes do wonder could I have done things differently? Why did I have to take such a decision in the first place? Was it because I didn’t want to deal with mom’s guilt later? Would my spouse have taken such a drastic step? I guess not.
Well, I am dealing with these thoughts, still.
Take the examples of my two sisters for instance. One was working with a leading TV channel as a news anchor; she had to take a break from her demanding work routine as she felt she was neglecting her two kids. When she finally decides to go back into the workforce I wonder how many takers she will find. She does confess to me that she has bouts of frustration sometimes. My other sister started working only after her kids were in high school and were mature enough to take care of themselves.
I think theirs and my stories will resonate with most women.
I believe gender equality is not a woman’s burden alone. It affects everyone whether we are men, women, queer, Trans etc. Men need to be as involved in it as much as everyone else.
Women are certainly forces to be reckoned with as members of the workforce or boardrooms but we also choose to go about fulfilling our societal or family responsibilities whether its motherhood or being caretakers to the elderly at home and so feel the need to demand equal opportunities, equal benefits, and equal pay.
I don’t think we are being unreasonable, because no man will face what we face, no man will do what we do.
The views expressed are the author’s own.