India ranked 108 out of 144 nations in the last Global Gender Gap report produced by the World Economic Forum, which looks at dimensions ranging from economic opportunities to political empowerment and healthcare. In the last 5 years, there has been a striking decline in the female population in the workforce, this only serves to increase the pay gap due to a supply crunch of female employees.

At SheThePeople.TV’s Feminist Conference the second panel explored the basis of the gender gap between men and women in the workplace. The discussion investigated why women continue to drop out of the workforce and aimed to look into the systems that are in place and failing as a result of it.

Panelists, leadership development specialist, Gurprreit Singh, lyricist, singer and executive editor at The Rolling India, Nirmika Singh, President of Jagran group, Apurva Purohit and Elsa D’Silva, founder of Safecity and moderator discussed the causes and processes both personally and professionally that cause women to leave the workforce. The conversation also explored and aimed to identify why this is the case despite new legislation (increased maternity leave, female representation on boards etc.) and why women are still largely underrepresented at work.

The speakers also tackled the relationship between women and money and discussed both why women are hesitant to discuss it and talk about getting raises and what can be done to enable women to fight for what they deserve.

Gender-based Wage Gap

Gurprreit Singh opened up the conversation explaining the root causes of the wage gap, “It starts with bias in the workplace, in many cases it is unconscious and some of it is conscious.” He added, “I encountered a woman who refused her promotion several times, after two hours I was also to break through to her, she finally said ‘I can’t because I will earn more than my husband if I do.’ We don’t realize the range of issues women have to deal with when it comes to money and the workplace.”

We don’t realize the range of issues women have to deal with when it comes to money and the workplace. – Gurprreit Singh

Nirmika Singh, the executive editor of Rolling Stone India, another male-dominated field stated, “When it comes to women artists, they are first judged by their appearance and then by their art. It is my mission to completely annihilate these biases and create more opportunities for women to showcase their talent and take up roles dominated by men.”

Her office now has a great reputation for gender diversity, and her editorial, marketing, sales, and operations teams are largely comprised of women.

Apurva Purohit explained the wage gap and gave us some insight into how she battles it. “Men are more visible, women are invisible, it’s in the socialization of girls and boys, we tell girls to take up less space, speak less, not be as bright, and the opposite for boys, we tell them to take up more space. We fight so many battles—even being born was a battle, to study, and then to take up work, the taking up a profession and then the biggest battle to all – the guilt.”

“When you rise in your career, you need to make sure you make it to the top, and when you are there you need to make sure your voice is heard—and that is not even enough, we need to make sure we get more women in the workforce.”

“A study revealed that Indian men contribute least to the home environment, so things need to change on the professional front in terms of biases and then things need to change in the home sphere in terms of equality,” added Gurprreit Singh.

The panelists also touched upon the need for role models. Apurva tells us that if younger women see older women in senior positions they automatically begin to visualize themselves in those roles. She added that men at work have to also be sensitized to what true equality means.

Also Read: Why Do Films And Feminism Have An Awkward Relationship

Follow all the conversation on Twitter on the #FeministConference here

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