Women in the Workplace: Is Marriage the Point of Contention?
According to the Women in the workplace 2017 report, “Inequality starts at the very first promotion. Women remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline. From the outset, fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women being 57 percent of recent college graduates. At every subsequent step, the representation of women further declines. As a result, one in five C-suite leaders is a woman. Moreover, compared with the modest gains women made in prior years, there are signs this year that women’s progress may be stalling.”
In India, women make for only 27% of the total workforce in the industry.
According to a report by hiring firm Belong, the gender ratio gets further skewed at senior levels. Only 7% of women reach the C-suite at Indian IT companies, the report said. While there are various reports that show the narrowing conditions of women in the workforce, no organization is able to give concrete causes nor solutions to the problem.
Is marriage one of the major causes of this problem?
Do women really have a choice to choose between their career or family life or are they not given the due choice itself in the first place? Women graduate better than men in India but are unable to step up on the career front. This can be understood better if we recognize the patriarchal society that we belong to.
Men are considered superior to women in a way that they define, refine and determine women’s position in our society. Fathers make choices for their daughters, brothers protect their sisters, husbands then take over and fulfil the responsibility of the fathers and brothers. This, unfortunately, is a continuous process.
Our society primarily considers men as the breadwinners. A women’s work is almost invisible and even if recognised, it is certainly under recognised.
While women are controlled on almost every front, marriage definitely leads women to make choice between family life and career. What’s unfortunate is that men never face this problem.
Ms Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, a writer mentions that a women’s career depends on her marriage and a man’s marriage depends on his job. She says “Women are advised to choose a career that can be practised anywhere in the world so that it is flexible to practice wherever the husband settles down after marriage. Women have always been the ones who had to make sacrifices and choices. Men never do nor are they asked to do so. Not only getting married makes women to choose but it also gives the recruiters the idea not to choose. I once sat for an interview for a job right before my marriage and I was rejected because they knew I was getting married. It’s unfortunate how the entire system is responsible for this. The society’s pressure leads the parents to pressure their daughters and most young women give in. Until a woman gets a job, marriage is never brought up but soon she works for a year or so then this is topic is brought. Most of the parents until now drive their daughters to work but after marriage this slowly fades into expectations of having a child, nurturing them and taking responsibility for the family”.
Nurturing is considered natural only to the women
Nurturing is considered natural only to the women and has been designated as the women’s core responsibility and duty. This naturalization of nurturing character with women also leads them to take a break from office work and then eventually become invisible in the workforce. Since women take breaks, men move ahead in the career ladder and then they get paid more by the time women joins back and this leads to the impression that the man is the primary breadwinner.
The very aspect of giving only women maternity leave explains volumes of how the women are expected to take care of the child. Women then not only take care of the children but also the aged. This is the primary drawback of marriage where only women are considered caregivers and nurturers.
While times have changed, the growth is not significant. It’s going from worse to bad. Meghna, a sophomore from New Delhi talks about how marriage still defines women in South India. She says, “Most women in south India are married off by 24, right after college. Having a degree is just a status symbol and has no value after marriage. I know of a sister who graduated from one of the best colleges in the country and the moment she stepped out of college she was married off. No choice was given to her. Another friend’s sister did her post-graduation from abroad and this fancy degree was just displayed in her wedding card right after she graduated. While women are stepping forward, the numbers are very bleak and it does not definitely give us a satisfaction to settle down”.
Reshma is an intern with SheThepeople.TV