Daughterly guilt, gender unfairness stymie women in Indian workplaces

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a think tank where she chairs the Task Force for Talent Innovation, gives the ambitious Indian working woman cause for both hope and despair.

Writing in CNN, she says, "The rapid growth in emerging markets over the past decade has made them fertile ground for the development of new approaches to attracting and managing talent. Among the biggest beneficiaries: Ambitious, educated women in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC)... As they enter the professional workforce in their home countries, these women have an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog their Western counterparts.


More than half of educated women in India have encountered bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals. AFP

The article is peppered with good and bad news. All the data that follows is from Hewlett's article.

•A whopping 86 percent of Indian women aspire to be on the top job, compared to only 52 percent of their US counterparts.

• Over 80 percent in Brazil, Russia and India love their jobs, versus 70 percent in the US

• Thanks to living with aging parents, "Daughterly guilt," exceeds maternal guilt in India and China.

• In India 45 percent of CTI survey respondents believe women are treated unfairly in the workplace owing to their gender.

•More than half of educated women in India have encountered bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals -- or quitting altogether.

Things are tough for women in India, but, as Hewlett says, they certainly aspire. If proof were needed, consider that for example, three major banks in India, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HSBC India, are headed by women - women in what was once the preserve of men.

It's not just at the top that matters. The more the working women, the more the likelihood that one of them will make it to the corner room. In the software industry, for example, 30 percent of the workforce is female. They are at par with their male counterparts in terms of wages, position at the work place, according to Debating Outcomes for 'Working' Women by S Singh and G Hoge.

One area that Hewlett's article does not focus on, unfortunately, is the safety aspect. "As women in India are becoming more educated, finding jobs outside the home, and starting their own businesses, they are doing so in the face of a culture where sexual harassment is widely accepted and personal security is a major concern," says Karin Kamp of Huffington Post.

Conditions for the Indian working women being treated fairly and having as good a chance of taking the top job are far from perfect - but there is little doubt that women's aspirations are a reality - and that the world is taking notice.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 16:27 PM

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