Why Do Working Women Need To Prove They're Ideal Mothers First?

A working woman in our society has to juggle a lot of things: her family, housework, and office work, which are always pushed to the last on the priority list. If a woman tries to focus on her career first, she is shamed for being selfish

Rudrani Gupta
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Image Credit: Twitter/@FollowCII

Acclaimed Indian tennis star Sania Mirza recently opened up about womanhood, motherhood and the challenges confronted by a working woman. She revealed facing biases during one of the interviews when a male reporter asked Mirza about her son. When Mirza said that he was at home, the man replied, "Well, you should be with him." To this, Mirza put a question and said, "Where is your child?". The man replied that he was at home. Mirza again said, "You should be with him too."


The conversation between Mirza and the man reflects the stigma that society has built around working women. It shows how society still thinks that being a mother, wife, or bahu is more important to a woman than being a career-oriented woman.

Sania Mirza further said in the interview, "Until we get that out of our culture where a woman is supposed to stay home and look after her kids,. And if she goes out to work or whatever she wants to do, she becomes too ambitious, and she is not a homely person. And when a man does it, he is "driven" and "ambitious," and he is the man to marry. This is something that is so deeply engraved in our culture that it needs to change."

Gender Inequality in the Employment Sector

Mirza's words point out the gender inequality that prevails in the employment sector. Women are often judged based on their personal choices. For example, when a woman goes for an interview, she is often asked if she is married or planning to marry, or if she has kids or is planning to have one. No, the interviewer is not trying to be friendly. Instead, they are playing cards of gender inequality by assuming that a woman who is a wife or a mother won't be focused on the job as much as a man. 


It is definitely true that in our society, a working woman has to juggle a lot of things: her family, housework, and office work, which are always pushed to the last on the priority list. If a woman tries to focus on her career first, she is shamed for being selfish and ignorant towards her "primary" duties. That is why, since childhood, women have been indoctrinated with the belief that their betterment lies in keeping the family happy and not in following a career.

Sure, time is changing. Women are being educated and employed. But are their career choices respected enough? Aren't women still told that they should give up their jobs and focus on planning a family? Aren't single women still asked to choose a career that will give them space to juggle family? I am asked. My friend is asked. And I am sure you are too.

What do moms in India hear when they prioritise themselves?

Sania Mirza is not the only one on the receiving end of the stereotypes based on motherhood. Many moms in India come across statements which not only judge their capability as a mother but also their character as a woman. "I was questioned by a friend on why I was drinking ‘so much’ now that I have become a parent and have ‘responsibilities’. It’s shocking how the correlations are reserved for women. Parenting and drinking are not connected and we need to give mothers a break from such random thinking," said 37-year-old Priyanka Seth from Gwalior. 

Moreover, 41-year-old Sukhleen Singh stopped attending kitty parties. This is  "because not only are men judging moms on how they raise, women are judging us more - and that is just not okay," she said. 

32-year-old Pankhuri Mittal said that she is fed up of people advising her on how to be a mother. She said, "You know as a mom I am sick of hearing advice. And do not tell us how to raise our children. We trust our process."


Why are Men treated Differently?

But what about men? Are they ever asked to balance their career with family? Are single men ever asked to think about how their career will affect their families? No. Instead, they are pressured to work day and night and be responsible enough to take care of the entire family. If they work late at night or leave early in the morning, there is no one to tell them that they are not giving time to their family or kids. Rather, they are appreciated for working hard. But if women do the same, she becomes an irresponsible woman who brings problems to her family. In fact, if something goes wrong in the family, for example, if a child commits some mistake, all the blame goes on the woman who is working.

But how long will women be idolised as mothers and not career-oriented people? How long will women have to face such stereotypes at work that, at some point, will make them judge their choices? When will women be given equal treatment and rights as working men? Yes, taking care of family is important. But it is true for both men and women. Stop imposing that duty on women alone. Next time, when you see a working woman, imagine her as a hard-working, talented, and independent individual. And not as an irresponsible bird who left behind her babies in the nest.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

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