Leadership Over Looks: When Will We Praise Women For Right Things?

Young women entrepreneurs 2 SheThePeople, Tech Mahindra Niti Aayog

In a chauvinistic society, women are glorified for their beauty and rebuked if they fail to meet the ‘societal standards’ of being ‘desirable.’ In some cases, a woman’s looks and not her leadership acumen become her sole reason of getting ahead in life or in some cases her downfall.

its time we start acknowledging men for beauty and women for their leadership skills-Saumyaa

SheThePeople.TV spoke to women across genres  to know their views on the blatant sexism they face at the workplace. Why looks over leadership is the norm. Why women with looks are assumed to be dud brains and those without looks are pitied for ‘missing out’ on looks. Just what could be wrong with a woman with good looks and a stellar brain? And so what if a woman isn’t good looking (whatever that definition is supposed to be)? It’s all quite convoluted.

Rashi Goel, a Law student based in Delhi says “When a conventionally good looking girl is good at her job it is usually assumed that she used her good looks to get ahead.When a conventionally not-so-good looking girl is good at her job it is presumed that the boss must have sympathized with her and given her a raise.”

“In today’s times gender roles are altering where you may see a lot more men visiting salons for grooming, haircuts and manicures. So its time we start acknowledging men for beauty and women for their leadership skills” said Saumyaa Vardhan, Founder and CEO of Shubhpuja.com

Shireen Mehra, Founder of Women On Clouds, feels that it is time that our society acknowledges women sans their beauty. “Women and beauty. An age old association and obsession. It’s great to be  privileged to be the gender half which gets associated with beauty. We accept and love that. But we are so much more than just looks and beauty.”

It is unacceptable to cast us in molds. It is difficult to live in a society where only beauty is given importance and not our intelligence, wisdom and leadership skills. In a sexist race, within a male dominated society, women aren’t considered leaders and aren’t accepted easily . But such a society will always remain unbalanced-Shireen

“In my opinion, we all will get old and wrinkly one day. Looks are temporary and women should be lauded for their leadership skills and not for their physicality,” suggests Sakshi Talwar, Co-Founder At Rugs and Beyond. “It doesn’t matter how good one looks and dresses, what matters is the innate capability of achieving something valuable and contributing to the society at large. I staunchly believe in brains over beauty and I would sincerely urge people in the workplace, especially men to appreciate women for their leadership skills and diligent hard work instead of their outer physical appearances.”

Read also: Dalai Lama Aspires To See More Women in Leadership

Ritika Tiwari, a Freelance writer and blogger based in Mumbai, feels that a person is as good as their work. “Just like men, women don’t need to look good to be good at what they do. The last US elections made me feel so caustic when the media was so concerned with the pants-suits Hillary Clinton wore, nut no one cared about what the male candidates were wearing.”

“For parents, its important to tell their little girls that its not necessary to wear a pretty pink dress or have nicely brushed hairs. They need to be good leaders and good at their work, that’s what matters. We don’t care how good Indira Nooyi or Chanda Kochchar look, what matters is how good they are at what they do.”

We also spoke to some young female students to know their experiences of dealing with people giving more importance to looks over leadership.

Women are presumed to achieve everything in their life solely on their looks and not their skills.This is humiliating. It simply discourages young girls trying to make it big as they aren’t able to handle such criticism coming their way. I personally feel so disgusted when something so superficial is always given preference over my real skills. Sometimes it results in unnecessary dents in my self confidence – Rashi

Abhidha Sharma, a photography student, blames India’s obsession with beauty for less women in leadership.

“I feel Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump shows that women are preferred only when it comes to ostentation of beauty. But the world prefers a male figure when it comes to holding leadership responsibilities. On a personal note, I always want people to perceive me the way I want to but that is difficult in India. There are so many young girls I know with stellar leadership qualities but they do not get a chance to climb the success ladder because their “not so pretty face” limits their opportunities.  The world must understand that there is more to a woman than her beauty”.

Garima Chhabra, an IP university student in Delhi, shares

“I am a 23-year old educated girl. My parents have invested heavily in my education. If beauty was the only thing that could please others, I shouldn’t have toiled day and night to make my dreams come true. My beauty, in no way, boosts my self-esteem. It is a transient thing that will fade away. Why bother about that?”

Read also: Women Who Faced Rejections Less Likely To Apply For Jobs

Aarti Panwar, studying Political Science from Delhi University, says

“There are more women buying make-up kits than books. That is not their fault really. The fault has to do with the kind of upbringing given to girls. Leadership is not considered to be a female domain. If some of them manage to hold leadership positions, their physical appearance and dressing style is constantly under scrutiny. This is unfair and must change.”

Sonam Jain, working as a corporate professional, opines,

“I think Bollywood movies have a big role to play in stereotyping women as mere objects that can only play the role of pleasing the audience’s eyes. Hundreds of songs are written praising women for their stunning beauty. The problem is not with women being beautiful. The problem is with the fact that we can’t confine a woman’s personality to her looks. We definitely need more Neerjas in our country that can can change the way society perceives women.”

These assertive women have made it very clear that “beauty over brain” is an age-old regressive concept which needs to change. It is only when women will be seen as humans with brains that we will actually be able to achieve gender-equality in all walks of life.

Read also: 8 Actresses Who Took On Sexism In 2016







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