Why Are Indian Working Women Scared To Ask For Their Rights At Work?

Posted: February 8, 2016

Indian working women like us are often scared of chasing our career dreams. Do not be. Put your foot down and ask for your rights at work.

We have come a long way from the days when women’s primary responsibility was taking care of the house, rearing kids and cooking for everyone. Women have given wings to their dreams, conquered great heights, learnt to multi-task their family and professional requirements. They have shattered the glass ceiling and it makes me very proud to be a part of this revolution.

But have you paused and noticed that whilst as women at the workplace we want to give our best shot at all times, there might be situations or circumstances which require us to take a break, pause and give ourselves some time off work?

What are these?

  1. The most common in most cases is pregnancy where there might be health issues. Even though all women may not face them, a few might face those dull and difficult days where giving their best at work may not be possible.
  • The life changing event of having a baby – linked to the first point. Staying long hours at office may not be possible, taking that call at odd hours from the confines of your home may not always work out. Kids falling ill, PTA, projects, exams, Annual Day and so much more which is bound to affect work life.

  • Responsibilities like old and ailing parents, parent in laws, siblings or any other dependents. It is often the woman who is required in our society to step out and take time to sort these out.

  • Pregnancy

    Breaking the news of ‘a bun in the oven’ aka pregnancy – this is not a very easy one for women. For one – the first thing that runs through people’s mind is “Oh there she goes on a long paid vacation of 4 months, wish we could get that”. I too was guilty of this thinking and couldn’t wait to go on maternity leave. Only when I actually delivered, did I know that these 4 months were the toughest of my life. It’s worse than the 12 hours of office stress. If you give me back those 8 hours of undisturbed sleep I am more than willing to forego my maternity leave benefit.

    But the lady in question who has to spill the beans will always find it difficult. And imagine if it is your promotion year or just near the comp season, guess what, it just got tougher? The woman will resign herself to not getting that promotion and wouldn’t raise her voice even when a mediocre pay hike or none is doled out to her.

    In fact I have seen a good friend who is really hardworking and sincere. She was hesitant to spill the news as her boss was due to be promoted to the next level. She feared that she being a key person reporting to him, this may impact his promotion and the wrath of this would be taken out on her. So see, not necessary it has to be your promotion? I wonder if a man was in the same place would he be so easily suppressed? I bet no.

    Baby and other responsibilities

    Now except for pregnancy the other two can be handled/ shared by both men and women right? So why should there be any difference in the two genders?

    Would a man feel or act apologetic or feel guilty and promise to make up by working on a Saturday for the day he took off to attend his son’s school function? But if it’s a woman don’t we usually end up giving explanations and promising to make up for such days?

    Men are known to be more ambitious, demanding and someone who will not settle for anything else. We often hear women who work just to put their degree to use, or so that they don’t get bored. But their primary focus is expected always be on their family. Any woman tho defies this age old rigid norm is looked down upon as the selfish bossy career woman. And not only men, even women do not hesitate in standing up against each other.

    Why, do I ask, is a woman require to choose? And why does no one ask this question to a man? If a working mom has professional aspirations and wants to reach the top, why do we have to judge her and jump to the conclusion that she doesn’t love her family? Do we know how much time she spends with her husband and kids? No.

    So woman, do not feel guilty about chasing your dream

    We are a long long way from the utopian society where men and women are treated on an equal footing. Till then let’s do our bit in supporting each other at the workplace and most importantly changing our mindset about working women and our worth. If we don’t value ourselves, who will?

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    Image source: Indian woman at work by Shutterstock.

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    Comments

    2 Comments


    1. So true. Being apologetic instead of assertive works against us. Our under confidence is the legacy of the past that we must work to overcome.

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