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Our study on the career aspirations of young Indian women reveals rising ambition, but gender as a factor still matters to working women in India.
By Aparna Vedapuri Singh
(With inputs from Sumedha Jalote)
Indian women are entering the organized workforce in large numbers – across industries and especially in urban India. Many young Indian women are the first women in their families to take up full-time formal employment; at the same time, working women in India face tremendous pressures as they climb the ladder at work – from social pressures to get married and have children early to rigid workplace structures that force women to drop out before they reach their potential.
As the web magazine chronicling the story of working women in India, we thought it the right time to look at the aspirations of young Indian women and so came about the Women’s Web – Career Builder ‘Career Aspirations of Young Women in India’ survey 2013*. The survey was conducted in partnership with Career Builder, a leading online job site that caters to job seekers across India.
For purposes of this study, we defined our respondents as single women based in India, in the age group of 18-26, studying or yet to join work.
Here are 10 key findings from the study:
1. Clarity on career goals
Young Indian women in this age group are fairly clear on their choice of career. 55% had ‘identified certain career options’ while 35% agreed to ‘I know exactly what I want to do’, leaving only a small number undecided.
2. How career-oriented are Indian women?
Career is certainly high up on the agenda for these women. 70% of women believed themselves to be highly or extremely career oriented.
3. What influences choice of job?
In order, Career growth opportunities, Liking for the job role and Office environment were the top 3 factors chosen by most respondents as influencing their potential choice of job. This was followed by Salary and Work-life balance.
What factors impact career choices?
4. Demands of the job
Traditionally, Indian women used to stay away from roles that required travel. Is this changing? It appears so, but not entirely. 68% of women in our survey were open to travelling as part of their job, which is a sizeable number. Core job related aspects such as leading a team or initiating a new project also had over 50% of women open to them.
Willing to explore as part of job
One area that fewer women were open to was networking extensively (41.86%). While the survey itself does not give us insight into the reason for these scores, perhaps it indicates that even at a young age, many Indian women are cautious of going beyond core job roles that could intrude on commitments to the family? Is networking seen as an ‘extra’ or ‘optional’ task that does not impact on the job itself?
5. Work pressure
There is a segment of women (33%) who felt they would prefer a high pressure-high rewards work environment.
6. The need for internships
Internships as a means of gaining entry into and experience in one’s chosen career are becoming popular. 48% of young women had gone through 1 or 2 internships towards their career.
7. How to find a job
Personal networking was seen as the top method to finding a job (82.95%) followed by online applications through company websites (70.54%), campus recruitment (51.94%) and online job boards (37.98%).
8. Marriage and career
64% of young women had plans to get married, while 13% did not plan to and 23% were undecided. That should count as a deviation from long-held social norms in India that make it almost mandatory for all young women (and men too) to get married. When asked about the potential impact of marriage on their careers, 60% agreed or strongly agreed that marriage would not slow down their career progress.
9. Do families support young women?
Families’ support for the ambitions and aspirations of young Indian women is certainly growing. 82% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their families were supportive of their career ambitions – that is certainly grounds for some cheer.
10. Gender and progress at work
Finally, despite their growing aspirations and belief in themselves, most young women are aware of the challenges that they will face as working women in India. 72% agreed or strongly agreed to the statement that ‘As a woman in India, it will be more challenging to grow in my career than it would be for a man.’
If you would like to read more, the Career Aspirations of Young Women in India 2013 study is available in the form of a complete report (below).
And do share with us your thoughts on enabling fulfilling careers for young women in India.
* Data collected in December 2012
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