Friday, 8 March 2013

Jaa ki rahi bhavna jaisee, prabhu moorat dekhi tin taisi- If you are lazy, u believe the rest of the world is too!

Today is international women's day and there is so much talk about the glass ceiling. I realised long time back that my job at the hospital can be done by some one else, but nobody can be a mum to my children and if they don't turn out right, I will not regret, not having done this or that at work, but will tear myself to pieces, wondering where I had gone wrong at home.

I have been a feminist from my Safdarjung days, when men would refuse to donate blood for the women who bore their children, but over time getting married and having children hasn't diluted my feminist credentials, much. At least my husband is candid about these things. Once when he was trying to convince me to receive his parents from the railway station in our newly acquired Zen, I asked him why he was out to prove to his parents that he was bad and I was great. He said in a Chanakya like strategist voice- "Thats the idea, that way they have no expectations from me and loads from you" Really?!!

Women at the top have it tough. Even top heroines get paid less than their male counterparts and even though Madhuri Dikshit, Kajol and Sridevi are reversing the trend of retiring after motherhood, it is not the norm. However, I learnt in an interview recently that Sharmila Tagore did it successfully, all those years ago. Hats off to Late Nawab Pataudi who kept sane while she romanced Kakaji by saying- "Heroes are many, but there is only one captain."

 I do believe that most men are just not capable of as much work as most women are, and the worst thing is that the men then find numerous excuses to prove that the reverse is true.

I recently had a run in with my boss who was trying to imply that I was trying to shirk work by not agreeing to try and be at two places, at the same time. My take simply is that the idea that I might be trying to get away from work, occurs to you only because it is on your mind all the time, not mine. Jaaki rahi bhavna jai see, prabhu moorat dekhi tin taisee.

Around about the time when a pregnant Marissa Mayer was appointed CEO at the floundering Yahoo, an article in the economist said that a lot of women feel that the men propagate a culture of drinking gallons of coffee and socialising during the day, only to then stay back after five for strategic meetings, which could easily have been earlier. Naturally the women, who find it hard to adapt to this culture and want to get back to the nursery at six, gradually make themselves content to not pursue top jobs.

The same Marissa Mayer though has been criticised for reversing the "work from home"rule for Yahoo.

This reminds me of what Sugata Mitra of "Hole in the Wall" fame said in one of his TED talks. He said School education as it exists today was created by the British Raj to ensure it churned out people with similar skills and culture to ensure the bureaucracy supporting the Raj, which was spread over many continents without internet or telephone, could function smoothly. The skills like good handwriting and mental maths are now obsolete, as these jobs have been taken over by computers. Alvin Toffler on the other hand said the schools were trying to be like factories from the Industrial age, where sirens made sure the workers were present in the assembly line to start production.

Whichever it was, the schools still maintain strict timings, but the IT industry in recent times decided that flexibility and innovation was key and thus allowed its employees to work from home. Wonder what would happen if kids were allowed to attend school from home. Also it was forced to be flexible with times because of the internet age when India had to complete back office tasks before America woke up.

At Yahoo, people took up part time jobs with other companies, while being allowed to work from home, forcing the hot off the press CEO Marissa Mayers to call for "All hands on deck" policy. Good luck to Marissa Mayers! If she manages to turn the fortunes of the struggling company Yahoo, men will have to put up with more cracks in the glass ceiling.

Most regular working women resent people like Marissa Mayers, who worked through her two week maternity leave, because women like her are empowered to pursue their dreams by what they can afford in terms of child care and household help and expect lesser mortal women to be as ambitious and relentless in the pursuit of excellence, when doing a job.

Then there are others (single women and women without young families)who resent the fact that some women take the work life balance to the other extreme by taking frequent maternity leave interspersed with sick leave and leave to look after dependants and attend hospital appointments.

Employers should allow flexibility to a certain extent, if it helps people reach their true potential. But more importantly women in their work force need to be treated as individuals with their unique abilities, without painting them with the same brush, based upon their own views and opinions from past experience.

I have tried to make peace with my boss without treading on his toes while trying to get him to see my difficulties but....jaa ki rahi bhavna jai see, prabhu moorat ......


namrata biswas said...

Just read a book by Sheryl Sandberg "lean In" .she makes one observation where she says that women pull back in career thinking about futures families and kids at a time when they don't even have a boyfriend.Its true is it not? I have heard millions of time women taking derma or path because there is no emergency and night calls during internship when they are not even going the book and ask your daughter to read it too if she has time

brightspark said...