‘We Must Not Give Her This Promotion ‘Coz She Just Had A Baby Last Year!’

The REAL reason working women find themselves quitting work and fighting the glass ceiling is systemic misogyny and a capitalist economy that will NOT be inclusive.

Scene 1:

A young female colleague in my team resigned. And it shocked a few male seniors including her reporting authority. Reason?

Her current job is in her hometown, and she lived with her parents. The new job, though has given her a substantial hike, will require her to relocate to a new city. Her reporting authority was wondering, she is already approaching 25, how can she start a family if she goes job hopping like this?

Scene 2:

There was a team meeting regarding role redistributions. The team leaders were discussing manpower management (see “man” is everywhere) with the department head.

There was a suggestion from the only female team lead to create a backup for another junior woman employee as she was handling an important portfolio and she had no backup. This employee had been with the department for more than 4 years and was “quite a handful”.

The young woman had gotten married earlier this year and the team faced issues while she was on leave for the wedding.

When the suggestion was placed, the reaction from her immediate reporting authority however was surprising. Nonchalantly, he commented, “Well, we will always have a warning of 5 to 6 months before she goes on maternity leave.”

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When it was suggested that she might consider moving to a new job too, a senior quipped in, “She just married now. Her husband is in the same town. And they are not too young. Why will she look for a job now when the time is ripe for a baby?”

Talk about corporate aunties!

Scene 3:

The appraisal was around the corner, and the fight for promotion was tough.

“See let us not put her on the promotion list now. She just had a baby last year. I know she is still taking care of her key responsibilities well but, she may not be ready for more burden.”

The woman in question was never a party to this assumption.

The real problem for working women

These are just a few of the common scenarios around all offices. If you lend an empathetic ear you can witness this kind of prejudice all around workplace cubicles and cabins.

No wonder, in my almost twelve years of tenure I have only seen a sharp decline in the number of female team leaders and other leadership roles. In my career span which started as a service desk officer and then going on to higher roles, I have seen it mostly marred by assumption, prejudice, and misogyny lurking at each nook and corner of our offices.

So, while discussing the low appraisal, a male colleague can casually comment, “You have no reason to crib. Anyways your income is the “extra” in your family.

You have to maintain decorum and cannot scream in their face, “No, sir, it is not ‘extra’. It is the payment of my hard toil just like yours. Your wife may have decided to be a homemaker and support you differently, and I support her choice (that is if it is her choice, and you are not forcing her) but that does not mean it is the only way.”

Why women employees are discouraged and put down

Remarks like “double engine” will be uttered again and again to undermine how their need for better compensation is justified because they are the “responsible heads of household” and we the so-called “privileged” employees are already “getting more than due.”

What privilege do you say? Well, the women employees get paid to do nothing in their 6 months of maternity leave! So unfair to the male workforce.

The irony is that women are expected to work as if she does not have any family, and at the same time be responsible for a family as if she does not have any job. This is a big hurdle always. The burn just intensifies with the prejudices of the bosses and the male colleagues, the way the decision-makers form their assumptions if the women workforce takes any step in their personal life, which then hinders their growth hitherto.

Workplaces and families – both only make the right noises without walking the talk

There is a huge hue and cry about the gender pay gap and about breaking the glass ceiling. But are we digging into where these problems start? From the families of these entitled colleagues. They have been fed certain norms about how women must behave and the limit of their ambition.

Yes, India has progressed. The in-laws will proudly declare they do not mind the daughter in law to continue her job. But, what will remain unspoken is the burden of other responsibilities and the guilt trips they would be taken through while stepping outside. Can you imagine the juxtaposition?

The family is giving you a low appraisal since you are a working woman, and the bosses are giving you a low appraisal because they think you are more devoted to the family. Funny, eh?

Some will succumb to the pressure and will quit. Will that solve the problem? Well, that is a whole different topic and needs a separate post for itself.

But, guess what their husbands will proudly declare to their other female colleagues? “After a certain time, the mothers(wives) must learn to prioritize. Anyways the husband has to be the breadwinner.”
And then they will also carry this prejudice to each and every decision about their teammates and juniors. No matter how many advertisements celebrating mothers and wives making their life flood the media, the deep-rooted patriarchal detriment are hard to go.

Is there any solution?

Sadly, the author of this article cannot think of one to break this shackle of the wrong assumption of the women workforce. She just hopes that young mothers (and young fathers hopefully partners in childcare) are instilling more sense of equality in their sons as well as daughters early on, so that the daughters do not settle for less and the sons do not reel in unnecessary misogyny.

Can you think of any solution to break the manacle of the vicious cycle?

Image source: YouTube

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About the Author

Sreeparna Sen

Sreeparna Sen, Banker by profession, finds her solace in writing. A Computer Engineer by education, she is a voracious reader. When she is not dealing with the loan documents, you can mostly find her nose read more...

27 Posts | 66,705 Views

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