As urban Indian women grow ever more aware of job opportunities, careers come into focus. While there is no doubt that there are more women in the workforce today, there is scope for a lot more. What’s the future of work? What do the new age women who take pride in their work and financial independence think about the issues that women face at work? We asked a few working women and well, a man as well.
Getting a man’s perspective is always interesting. Take Kashyap Deorah, founder of HyperTrack for example. He insists that he is not just a start-up veteran but also a stay-at-home dad. “My wife found this great opportunity in the renewable energy sector in Delhi, and she had to shift here. The only way we could do that was by my leaving Mumbai with her,” he says. Deorah has only lived in Mumbai and California. It was not easy for him to consider Delhi as a place to live, but he did it because for his wife’s career.
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He admits it was his upbringing that helped him take this decision. “My mother had to quit her job when I was born, and my father became the sole bread-earner in the family,” he said. “I did not want my wife to quit her dreams, so I became her wings.”
While some men like Deorah create a favourable environment for women to succeed at work, workplaces can sometimes be irrational in the way that they fail to account for the needs of their employees. Prukalpa Sankar, the young founder of SocialCops, listed on the Fortune list of 40 under 40 and the Forbes list of 30 under 30, explains this with an anecdote. Once, she says, after working on a Sunday, she arrived at work 15 minutes late the following day – and was yelled at by her boss. This, she says, made her promise to herself that she would never be that insensitive when she had her own company.
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Sure enough, SocialCops has absolutely no rules about timings for its employees. “People should come to work when they feel most productive,” said Shankar. “I have people reaching office at 8 in the morning and then there are people who come at 4 in the evening. We have beds in the office for people who work overnight and I think that is the future of work we want to see.”
All this is fine for women in the workforce. But as per an ASSOCHAM report, women’s participation has in fact declined in the past decade, from 34% in 2005 to a staggering 27% in 2014. Always good to hear an outside perspective on this. For writer and journalist Bee Rowlatt, for example, it is astonishing that educated women in India contribute less to India’s work force than uneducated women. It is a waste of time, money and resources if women don’t take all their education forward to build a career, she feels. This of course has a lot to with the way women are brought up in their families. While parents are often in favour of their daughters excelling in education, they tend to be wary of their daughters focusing on careers. Some women also quit their jobs mid-career to take care of their children.
The solutions to the above are of course that workplaces need to alter to cater to the needs of women. facilities like working from home, flexible timings, freelance work, and better day-care facilities for kids could be real game-changers.
Clearly, given facilities and an understanding of needs, India’s women’s workforce would soon not only expand, but shatter the glass ceiling once and for all. And this thought was echoed by what those who we spoke with above, the occasion being the Sheroes Summit, of which SheThePeople is a partner.
Feature image credit: Recounter