afaqs! news bureau

Working women's woe

Apurva Purohit, who has authored 'Lady you're not a man - The adventures of a woman at work' in partnership with Ormax Media, carried out a survey to understand the issues and opinions of corporate women.

As women form a crucial proportion of the white collar workforce in the country today, increasingly studies are being carried out on the gender and workplace opinions and issues faced by them. Marking International Women's Day, here is one more body of research on working women.

Working women's woe
Working women's woe
Apurva Purohit, author of 'Lady you're not a man - The adventures of a woman at work' (LYNAM), which was published, last year, collaborated with Ormax Media to carry out a survey across five cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad. Around 1,000 women in the age-group of 25-34 years participated in the survey, which also had male respondents. Most respondents worked in the private sector, of which close to 40 per cent were from the media and entertainment segment. About 70 per cent of the respondents were in junior and mid-management level.

Purohit terms it as the 'first definitive study showcasing the biases women face and their expectation from workplaces. "For years we have only heard through anecdotes what working women are thinking and feeling about their workplace. The success of the book 'Lady You're Not A Man', was a testimony to the desire Indian women have to achieve their goals both at work and at home. This research tells us how we can create an eco-system which looks at what is going through their minds and helps them achieve this desire," she says.

The survey threw up some interesting facts like how 60 per cent of working mothers preferred their workplace providing childcare facility or how similar percentage of single women were perceived as a "risky" hire by interviewers, as they thought it was likely that the women would quit post marriage.

To be accepted in the inner circle at the workplace, more than half the women in Delhi and Mumbai felt they had to drink or smoke, as this helped co-workers to be casual and fun. What is more, about 60 per cent men also agreed to this opinion. However, over half of the women in south India believed that marriage or motherhood affected the rapport with their colleagues.

As for that 'glass ceiling', over 60 per cent of the women said that this ceiling very much exists in the corporate set up. In fact, this was felt even more in the health sector, which saw 71 per cent confirming this opinion, followed by women in the education sector, manufacturing sector and media & entertainment sector.

On the matter of sexual harassment at workplace, the study revealed that 45 per cent of women in Mumbai and 40 per cent in Bengaluru were reluctant to report the incident as they felt it was futile. Also, 53 per cent women in Delhi, 44 per cent in Hyderabad and 57 per cent in Pune felt they would become subject of office gossip if they officially reported sexual harassment.

Not surprisingly, 45 per cent women in Delhi said men believe that successful women often 'sleep their way to promotion'.

Interestingly, although Delhi has become notorious for being an unsafe city for women, more than half the women in the Capital felt at ease working under a male boss. Across the cities, 37 per cent women felt comfortable with a male superior. Majority of the respondents also believed that a good worker would be chosen over a good 'looker' to make important presentations.

The study also nudged the respondents to do gender introspection and found close to 42 per cent women in Chennai, 39 per cent in Mumbai and 35 per cent in Bengaluru feeling that many a times women 'willingly' allowed someone to control their life and career. Also, 27 per cent women said working women resorted to "lost babe in the woods", "sexy diva", and "emotional blackmail" tactic to take advantage.

Another interesting finding was that while over half of the women in metros felt they are more connected to their work and organisation and productive as compared to men, a whopping 80 per cent of men thought otherwise.

One of the biggest problems working women had was not being taken seriously by their male colleagues or superiors. Almost half of the respondents felt this issue was graver than men staring at cleavage, passing sexist remarks or gossip.

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