Check out the ultimate guide to 16 return-to-work programs in India for women
Always the good girl, Anisha dared to break free this time, and did something unthinkable. Will her colleagues and her bosses accept the new Anisha?
Our #FridayFuel weekly cue gives our contributors interesting new ideas to share their experiences with the community. One such cue was #MischiefManaged, around which this post revolves. Sign up to be a part of the Women’s Web community if you too would like to receive such creative prompts, useful resources & more!
Anisha had always been the epitome of the “good girl”, even among her colleagues at the tech company – known for its big data, machine learning, and AI solutions, where she worked as the Senior Data Scientist.
She always turned her projects in on time, never questioned her superiors, and led her team with quiet resilience. But today, Anisha felt something different; a buzzing energy ran through her veins as she prepared for the annual HackFest, an internal hackathon for the employees.
This year, the theme was “Disruptive Innovations,” and the judges were the company’s higher-ups.
Anisha had an idea—a risky, audacious, borderline rebellious idea, that broke all conventional corporate wisdom. She wanted to use the company’s internal AI algorithms to highlight gender biases within the organization’s own recruitment processes. The same algorithm they used to screen applicants would be turned back on them, like a mirror the company couldn’t look away from.
“You’re gonna do what?” gasped Priya, Anisha’s colleague and friend, when Anisha told her about the idea.
“It’s risky, I know. But if not now, when?” Anisha said with a confidence she’d never felt before.
For the next 24 hours, Anisha and her team coded like their lives depended on it. Normally quiet and introverted, Anisha was a dynamo when it came to tech skills. Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she parsed data sets, integrated the AI engine, and prepared a dashboard to display the results. She even indulged in a copious amount of coffee—usually a no-go for her—claiming, “Desperate times call for desperate caffeine.”
As the HackFest presentations started, Anisha felt the pressure mounting. Teams presented their projects: smart parking solutions, voice-activated database queries, predictive market analytics, and so on. They were all impressive, but safe; exactly what the company wanted.
Finally, Anisha’s team took the stage. Her heartbeat drowned out the clapping of her colleagues. She looked at the judges—C-suite execs, VPs, and even the CEO, Revathi Ramchandran—and clicked to the first slide. As she stood at the front of the room, her eyes scanned the sea of expectant faces before her.
“Imagine, just for a moment, that you’re locked out of your house, and the only key that can get you back in is buried somewhere in your neighbor’s backyard,” Anisha began, her voice tinged with suspense. “You think you know your way around, but as you dig, you realize you’re following a map that’s outdated and misleading. That’s exactly what our current recruitment process is like.”
“Explain, please!” The voice came from one of the VPs.
“Our project aims to disrupt something that we all think works perfectly but is, in reality, flawed—our recruitment process,” Anisha started. “We’ve used our own AI engine to analyze our hiring data over the last five years, and the findings might surprise you.”
A murmur of intrigue swept through the room as Anisha clicked her remote. The new slide popped up, glaring and straightforward—a bar graph towering with men on one side and a scant number of women on the other. The room went silent, each person digesting the vivid display on the screen.
Revathi, sitting near the front, leaned forward, squinting at a small data point that seemed out of place. “Hold up. Let’s park on this slide for a sec,” she interjected. “See this outlier? A fresh grad from a reputed college, did her thesis on AI-driven climate solutions, and even spent half a year building a machine-learning app for disaster management. Why was she turned away?”
Anisha met Revathi’s gaze, unfazed. “Ah, that one. She got edged out because we had another applicant—also from the same college, also into AI—but he had a marketing internship under his belt,” she replied, her words slicing through the room’s thick air. “In our company, the unspoken rule has been that guys are just ‘better suited’ for client-facing roles in marketing. It’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole based on nothing but stereotypes.”
The atmosphere in the room thickened, the data on the screen now taking on new weight, almost begging for an overhaul of the system it represented.
The room went quiet as Anisha displayed graph after graph showing gender biases in their hiring trends, performance reviews, and even promotions. As she concluded, she looked straight at Revathi Ramchandran and said, “We have a diversity problem, and we need to fix it. If we don’t, we’re not only doing a disservice to potential female employees but also hampering our own growth.”
For a moment, the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop. Then Revathi Ramchandran began clapping—slowly and deliberately. The others hesitated but eventually joined in.
“That was audacious, Anisha,” Revathi Ramchandran said. “But it’s the kind of audacity we need to make this company better. Let’s discuss how to implement this immediately.”
As Anisha walked off the stage, her heels clicking with authority, a surge of energy enveloped her. Her team swarmed her with cheers and high-fives, and she realized she had shattered her “good girl” image for something far more valuable—integrity and the power of audacity. As she reveled in the moment, Anisha sensed a shift in the room—something was off.
Across the room, a group of men in starched collars and monochrome ties huddled, their faces painted with contempt and disbelief. Ravi, the ever-jovial team lead who often told “good old boys” jokes, now clenched his jaw as if biting back words better left unsaid. Mohit, known for his mansplaining tendencies, raised an incredulous eyebrow and scoffed. It was as though he had just witnessed a circus act, not a powerful presentation from a female colleague.
Dhiraj, the silver-haired executive who never missed an opportunity to underscore the importance of “tradition,” shook his head in annoyance. His eyes met Anisha’s, only to quickly divert as if making eye contact would somehow validate her audacity. These men were rattled, their body language shouting what their mouths dared not say: Anisha had violated an unspoken law. In their world, she was being too loud, too bold—too much. She was declared a “bad girl,” but ever so silently, so as to have no effect on Anisha’s performance and reputation in front of the company’s head.
In that instant, Anisha recognized the cost of her audacity. Gone was the facade of the polite, nodding “good girl” who stayed safely in the corners of unobtrusiveness. In its place, stood someone unafraid to be vocal, to challenge norms, and to break the glass ceilings that had been hanging so precariously above her. And it felt exhilarating. She knew that what she had traded her passivity for was invaluable—her own sense of integrity and the unapologetic power of her voice.
Image Source: Canva Pro
I am a photographer and an avid reader. I am not a writer but I like to give words to my emotions. I love to cook and hike. I believe in humor and its impact read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
Please enter your email address