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Working woman in India

Single Career Women: Challenges Of Working Women In India

Changing social trends indicate a significant rise in the number of single career women all over the world. Earlier, as we all know, women were expected to remain, and manage things, within the confines of their homes.

But nowadays, people are opening up to the fact that women are also capable of working in commercial fields and earn a living for themselves.

After much clamor about treating women as equals and abolishing gender discrimination, we now see a significant rise in the number of women, especially in high managerial positions and large companies.

However, there are still some key problems that single career women in India have to face in their day-to-day lives.

  • Domestic Issues:

The families of many single career women are still to accept them as bread earners. This is true, especially for developing like India, where the society is strictly patriarchal. Even if some of them do accept their daughters as working individuals, they still do not like to see them outshine their male siblings.

Says Niti, a 28-year old bank manager, “Even though I earn much more than my brother, my parents tend to take his job and professional demands more seriously. If there is a family wedding coming up, I am the one expected to take leave from work to attend it.”

While some single career women do not have the issue to deal with the issues above, their families do restrict their time out of the house due to safety concerns. Paranoid parents may unknowingly hamper their daughters’ professional growth by allowing them work only during specific day hours or in pre-defined professional settings.

Ruchi, 23, says, “My dad was against the very idea of me working in a call center as it involved night-shifts. Even the former was more lucrative, I had to take up a job at a day-care center as a receptionist.”

In nations like India, people are still concerned about what their neighbors or relatives might think about a certain issue. Even if the parents of single working women do not have problems with their daughters going out for work, people around will offer unsolicited advice.

This sometimes influences the parents’ mindset and they may begin pestering their daughters into sidelining their professional aspirations to get married and start a family. Given the tedious, and often futile, task of convincing their parents, the woman finds little support from her loved ones.

Swastika (name changed), a 25 year old IBM consultant, says, “I almost convinced my parents about taking up a job with the local newspaper at the start of my career when, my aunt gave her ‘valuable’ opinion about working females to my dad. I won the ‘battle’ single-handedly, with only my convincing power as my weapon.”

Some Indian men are yet to come to terms with the fact that women are also capable of being competent and professional workers. Single career women thus face the challenge of fighting their way through a chauvinist society.

  • Work Issues:

Single career women, are often discriminated at the workplace. They are always compared to their male counterparts, and even pitched against them in unfair situations.

Even though most large organizations have now come up with equality laws and regulations, there is always an underlying current of criticism that working women have to face from their peers, as well as, seniors.

Often career women may have to take a break from their work as they’re expected to take care of family issues. But more often than not, these sabbaticals result in women missing out on significant career opportunities and receive little support when they plan to rejoin the work place.

Jeannette Cleveland, in her book titled, Women and Men in Organizations: Sex and Gender Issues at Work, says, “… these (career) women succeeded by taking risks, pursuing line responsibility, managing people effectively, and having mentors- much like male executives …”

Despite these odds, single career women nowadays seem to sail through all these issues with much ease. The most important advantage they have over their married colleagues is that they can focus on their careers without the distraction of having to run back home to their husband and children. This allows them to grow and to be promoted faster, resulting in greater career satisfaction.


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