“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future”
Who is She?
She is a Daughter
She is a Sister
She is a Wife
She is a Mother
She is a Best Friend
She is a Colleague, an everyday working woman
She is the girl next door
She is YOU
Let me introduce you to you, this is you – the Super-woman of today. You wear many hats on an everyday basis and more than often you don’t even recognize them all. You reign in various areas of your life. The above-mentioned may only be a small part of the interminable list of roles that you play in your everyday life. It is amazing how in today’s world of “Multi-taskers” you have been doing the multi-role from before even time began and yet the corporate world calls “today” as the era of the multi-taskers. So ladies, let’s celebrate you.
As you continue to balance working outside the home with your domestic responsibilities, the idea of engaging in multiple roles simultaneously, or “doing it all”, has become a valued social norm. And while to all else this looks hunky-dory, you know the challenges you face.
In my own career spanning more than a decade, over a couple of big industries and ranging from the Indian to the International work environment, I can definitely say I have had my fair share of challenges.
From discussions with other fellow women peers, here’s a few common challenges –
Based on popular biblical history, God created Adam first, and then came Eve. Even the women in the Mahabaratha, are shown to be fighting male authority and subordination.
Whether it is men reporting to women or vice versa or working as peers in a team, there is bound to be ego clashes resulting very often in unhealthy office politics. One very interesting incident in my career history when I reported to a male boss. My boss had relocated from Venezuela and taken on his role, while I had been in the system for a good 4 years. Driven by my heart and emotions (like most women), my sole purpose during his settling down days was to be a complete support and make life easy for him. Unfortunately, my over-communication only led to ego clashes. And this for me was one of my toughest challenges.
Women in successful positions today state that it has taken heaps of courage and time to reach their positions today. An article in The Wall Street Journal on “Work-Life Balance a Challenge for Indian Women” – Srimati Shivashankar, who is in charge of promoting greater gender diversity at HCL Technologies, says she had to work harder than others as she was climbing the corporate ladder. “Cracking stereotypes like “think director, think male” was not easy, says Ms. Shivashankar.
Leaders should encourage healthy conversations among fellow employees be it man or woman and facilitate treating criticism as a means of constructive feedback mechanism.
Men vs Women
Even while most corporates have incorporated “Equal Opportunity Employer” as a key element of their core values / code of conduct. But has that changed the minds of the male work force?
Patricia Narayan, Entrepreneur & Founder – Sandeepha Chain of Restaurants, in her interview with Readers Digest says, “I feel words like woman empowerment are only in paper. How many women have achieved empowerment even today? Unfortunately, majority of Indian women are financially weaker than men and it suits men also when women have to depend on them. They are still expected to depend on their father, husband or son all their lives. The lives of majority of women in India are like this and only a small percentage has achieved freedom from this.”
While a man may be practical, a woman could think farfetched. In corporate environments, where people of both genders participate in all activities with equal vigor and enthusiasm such differentiation poses a challenge for a woman.
Having been involved in the interview process across all hierarchical levels, I have seen women openly asked about personal life plans i.e marriage, children. And very often well-deserving women have been deprived of leadership positions or other challenging roles.
A working woman loves your concern but not your sympathy. She wishes to be recognized with her talent and not her gender. As colleagues men and women need to combine their synergies and work in union.
Women struggle with finding better ways to balance work and life and often this guilt comes from outside sources like pressure from husbands, family, and friends. Being torn between family and work commitments poses to be the biggest stress boosters for women. A study by Grant Thornton, a global accounting and advisory firm, found that the difficulty of balancing life and work is a key reason why women in India leave their jobs. While 24% of Indian men surveyed said they quit their jobs because of long or inflexible working hours, for women that figure was 48%.
Picture a situation, where a woman has to choose between a planned family function and a sudden, unplanned corporate (networking) dinner.
What would you choose? (Between the Devil and the Deep Sea!)
Nothing lost yet, all women need to do is – Be truthful to themselves – manage their time and prioritize their commitments.
So I have only captured a few challenges that are common to most women. Ladies, I am sure that you deal with more.
However, Dear Ladies, despite the challenges, the good news is that – “You are clothed in strength and dignity, and you laugh without fear of the future”. You are a SUPER-WOMAN.
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