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Why Do We Need Women Leaders and Role Models in India

Updated on January 16, 2018

Here are some statistics that throws light on India’s appalling state when it comes to women’s career,

According to a survey by McKinsey on “Women Matter”, only 4% women in the top level management of India. As close as 20 million women quit their career between 2004 to 2012. More than 21.7 million women dropped out of workforce whereas 24 million men joined the workforce in the year 2004-2010 reports National Sample Survey.

What makes women quit their high paying jobs?

Motherhood and family

Motherhood although a pleasurable experience for women and her family, turns out to pose difficulties for her career. Maternity policies also allow women to take only up to a maximum of 180 days post delivery. Post maternity break, many jobs in India do not offer flexibility to help women manage both work and her family. Hence, many women opt to quit out of the workforce in order to adjust to the lifestyle changes.

Women also give up their career due to changing locations of her spouse or for supporting her children with their education.

Managing too many things

Though women are skilled in multitasking, they are bombarded with too many responsibilities. Inequitable division of household responsibilities is another major reason that makes women quit workforce. More than 92% of household chores are managed by women. There are too many things that women need to do as compared to men of similar position does. Another shocking data shows women in India on an average spend 351.9 minutes on household chores. Whereas, men spend 51.9 minutes on such duties.

Gender disparity in work

Gender inequality in work environment is prevalent even in many big corporates in India. Women experience gender bias in performance evaluation. Women have to work almost double the times more than her male colleagues to prove her commitment. The HR policies are not designed to cater to the transitions in women’s lives. The work model also does not support women. Work model in India requires mobility and availability at all times. There are quite a few companies to support women at treat them at par with their male counterparts.

Lack of proper support system

Support system drives the everyday ecosystem of families in India. While the size of our families has shrunk to 3 or 4 members. We depend on so many systems to help support the children in the absence of parents. The majority of women depend on their extended family or most often daycare facilities for managing the children in the absence of a parent. Not everyone can afford the best daycare facilities or these daycare facilities are still inaccessible for many who live in tier 2 or 3 cities.

Stress due to Double Burden Syndrome

It is a culture where both men and women feel that household duties are primarily the woman's responsibility. Working mothers are trapped in the circle where they feel to be bad mothers for going for work and bad workers when they put their child first. Women in mid-career far too agonize about their jobs while they are at home and are worried about their families while they are at work.

Social Pressure

Young Indian women face the issue of being judged on the roles that she does. She has to prove to be the perfect wife, perfect mother or a perfect daughter-in-law to be accepted by her family. The decisions that she takes are at the disposal of her family.

Women’s attitude towards career

Women in India do not have role models or any inspiration for power positions. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, that was mentioned earlier, there is only 4% of the women in the senior management of companies in India. They do not inspire to be in power or positions as compared to men. Women associate negative implications to top positions. This is because of the lack of role models for women in top management.

Advantages of having women leaders and more women in workforce

1. Perspective

Women can bring in a whole new perspective to a problem. Since most of the top management is mostly male, they do not understand an issue as a whole. Women in board rooms could bring a new perspective to a problem which is overlooked.

2. Overall Development

Women leadership could bring in the overall development of the organization. This would put them on an equal scale and motivate both the genders to work towards improving themselves.

3. Role models

Women leadership could bring in more role models that women could associate. They get positively motivated by women bosses. Women leadership would inspire more women to have career goals. This would bring in more contribution from women workforce.

4. Economy

If women did not quit the workforce,

1. According to world bank survey, if women participated in formal sector at equal rates as men, there would be an additional 217 million women in India.

2. The labor force participation of Indian women is much low when compared to many developing countries. This huge chunk of missing women could boost India’s GDP by 27%

How to Retain Women in the workforce?

Retaining women in the workforce is one of the toughest challenges faced by many organizations. Many organizations have started to realize the importance of having a more women leaders and role models.

In order to retain women in their organizations, it can

  1. Bring better HR policies that support women on their various transitions of their lives. This would give them equal opportunity.

  2. Help them by mentoring them.

  3. Provide project based deadlines than a time-specific one

  4. Give a better support system by providing high-quality day care facility, but not just for the sake of it.

Having said that, women leadership needs much more support from the families. We need to address the gender bias in our culture. This could be achieved through,

  1. A Supportive family setup where the domestic work is shared equally among both the sexes.

  2. Gender equality should be inculcated from the childhood. We can do this by raising ambitious daughters and more responsible sons.

An environment that is sensitive to the needs of women would bring in more of them participating. This would bring in more women role models and women leaders in India.


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    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      18 months ago from New Delhi, India

      While gender bias, pay disparity and workplace issues are relatively new in the Indian context, our basic problem or root cause still lies in the societal norms. We are evolving but not at the pace that we should.

      I think rather I believe that the women that have excelled, have either been independent themselves or have had a strong supporting structure. Most of them have been their own role-models!!

    • Parimalpolymath profile image

      Prabhat Parimal 

      20 months ago from India

      A nice article with an excellent topic!


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