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Is it still a man’s world? Things have changed for women a lot since our grandparents’ time – but in many ways, things are much the same, even if covert.
A WhatsApp group banter between a bunch of college friends led to us exchanging views on – In the 21st century is it still a ‘man’s world’? There was no straightforward Yes or No to that question. It needed two days’ worth of detailed exchanges for us to finally come to a conclusion.
Culture, we concluded, had a major role to play. Despite the pros of globalization which include knowledge and opportunities available to one and all, all over the world, cultural differences still shaped mentality and thinking. For example, women in India or South Asia might be prone to having to exercise a lot more tolerance than those in the West. Conditioning of men too, differs to a large extent globally.
To evaluate the situation fairly, we decided to break our discussion into various parameters around which our lives typically revolve. This would include work, children and relationships.
On the face of it, all of us unanimously felt that as far as careers were concerned, women definitely have a fair chance. And sometimes a ‘fairer chance’ considering that most multi nationals give women a lot of flexibility in terms of maternity and child care time off, part time or flexible work hours, etc. We have women heading big brands as well as forming a huge part of the work force.
But is it all fair? The answer was a slow No…
Does her being ‘a woman’ put her to a disadvantage in a lot of situations? The answer was a slow Yes…
Policies might do a lot to support women. However, there are definitely promotions lost when it is known that a woman is going to go on maternity leave.
If she can put only the assigned office hours at work and not work overtime, because she has to manage things at home, she is given less critical assignments. Again an excuse to stall career growth.
Socially, men and women connect differently. Hence if a bunch of one’s office colleagues are going out for a drink, and if you choose to excuse yourself, it is seen as inability to network.
On the other hand, I am very apprehensive on what turn would office gossip take if the woman has had one to many drinks at the bar table.
If, after a boardroom discussion has concluded its official agenda, and moves onto discussing soccer or cricket, and if you are just a silent spectator, there is no effort made to include the women in the room.
Even if there has been a drastic change in the workplace for women, the rules and environment is still set by men. As a result, she is needed to put in a lot more efforts than her male counterparts to be taken seriously.
Regardless where they are on the globe, children continue being prime responsibility of the mother – stay at home or working. Be it finalizing day cares or picking kids up from there; fixing their meals or rushing them to the doctor’s office are all pleasures in the women’s kitty.
Wonder why? By virtue of having given birth, children become an inherent subconscious responsibility of the mother. When men help with the ‘womanly duties’, even if some of it, they are looked up as ideal partners!
Trying to balance work and home and feeling perpetually guilty of not being able to do justice to sometimes one or both, is something women have learnt to live with.
A true 50-50 partnership in all tasks is unfortunately still not the reality of family life; how much ever we believe it might be.
Practically, if we see women around us, they are always rushing. Rushing to meet deadlines as they need to attend that PTA. Rushing to wrap up meals and put kids to bed as they have just a few hours to meet that deadline at work!
The new age woman is a lot more in control as far as relationships are concerned. Whether it is choosing a partner or walking out on a relationship or an open view on sexuality – hetero homo or bi – women these days do make the choice.
There is, however, no dearth of abusive marriages, dowry related issues, girl child complications –where the woman is at the receiving end for absolutely no fault of hers.
Emotional as well as social vulnerability does compel her to look up to her spouse for support and sometimes overlook a lot of inconsistencies in her life.
However all is not lost. Financial independence and a loosening in social norms equip her to make decisions which would not have been possible couple of decades ago.
All in all, women might have found their safety niche and a big support system in the form of feminism, however that niche is still in a man’s world.
Image source: pensive woman by Shutterstock.
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