#Feminist Rani

Why women politicians reject the gender card: Sagarika Ghose

This election season, senior editor Sagarika Ghose provides insight into why women politicians reject the gender card. The final part of SheThePeople.TV’s interview with Ghose touches upon the gender equation, looking at why and how all-male networks tend to form, even in the media, and asks when women will get the equivalent of an old boys’ club?


“As you get senior as a journalist, you have to be aware of the competitive equations that are there with your senior male colleagues. The comradeship you have with your male colleagues on the field, changes. Back when you’re in the newsroom, it’s very competitive. It’s competitive in ways that are very hidden. People will try to checkmate you, they’ll go behind your back… This is all par for the course in the newsroom.”


“Men tend to form cabals, they can always go out after work and have a drink at the press club. You — because you have to go home, or they may not be in your circle of friends — you can’t be part of that social activity that takes place outside of work, and it’s there where a lot of deals are done, between the male networks.”

She tells us: Because you’re never part of that, you’re going home, you’re not part of that, you’re doing your own thing, they might take it amiss if you tag along with them. It might be unacceptable. You’re never part of the social interaction that takes part outside of work. If one man and a senior boss are going for a drink, you’re not there.

You’re not part of the networking, you’re not on friendly terms with your boss the way a male competitor is. All sorts of things arise.

Like the book by Sheryl Sandberg Lean In – you’ll go to meetings, women have a very pragmatic problem solving approach.

There’s an event that has to be done, the woman will do the event and will always get the job done.

I remember you, you’d get the job done and do it very well. The men will make a lot of song and dance about it. They’ll have diagrams, lists and flowcharts, and power points. They’ll have all this sound and fury. Often the senior person, the adjudicator is very impressed with all this sound and fury.

“You may not have done that, because you’re focusing getting the job at hand done, so you may have not done all the sound and fury. There also women lose out, they don’t sell themselves or hard-sell themselves as well.”


Q: The OLD BOYS’ CLUB: There’s no equivalent for women

There are very few women at senior levels of journalism. There are very few, a handful.  And because there are very few, you actually don’t hang together.  Just as women politicians reject gender — there is no women politicians in India today who is actively campaigning on women’s issues or gender issues, because they know if you take up women’s issues…As soon as you do, you’re boxed into the zenana dabba, you’re finished politically, you’re not taken seriously politically. 

Women who are in senior positions professionally have to prove they’re more man than woman, so they can talk to the guys, hang with the guys. If they’re seen huddling with the women, they aren’t taken seriously. Nor do you want to do that. You want to establish yourself as an individual. There are also no senior women who can patronise you the way the men patronise other men. The CEO is invariably a man, and the president of the company is invariably a man, he will always patronise the second rung of men. A Woman CEO or president is very rare. There is no women’s club simply because there are very few women who are at the higher levels of professions.