#PledgeForParity – Change Begins With You

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

                                                                                 – Ayn Rand

Gender Parity cannot be achieved overnight. It also cannot be achieved by writing or talking about it. Only being the change, we wish to see can make things different and better.

You and I will not be around for another 117 years to see Gender Parity so we need to sow the seeds now and reap benefits in this life. This year, I #PledgedForParity and whether at home or at work I am changing myself. Sometimes, little efforts can bring big changes and it’s important to take those first few steps. Everything else will slowly fall in to place.


 Today at work, I overheard a tea conversation that was themed around how pregnancy/motherhood is challenging. It comes as no surprise when many women give in to the pressure and put their careers on the back burner.

It’s important that working mothers talk to their manager or employer about the challenges they face. What can or cannot be done is a conversation for some other day but know that good talent needs to be retained and organizations are open to go that extra mile to help women stay on the job.

Ask for the support you need, for flexible hours or part-time schedule. It’s important that you believe in your decision to quit work or to continue. Delegate chores, talk to your husband and explore options before you half-heartedly take a decision that you regret.

Don’t give up on your career just because you are a Mum. 


When I was a Software Engineer, before big code deployment or releases, we used to stay late at work to finish coding and fixing bugs. Out of concern and my safety, my boss would drop me home around 8PM but the men on the team stayed back to finish the work. Next day morning, they would talk about how much effort they put in, stayed all night to finish things, send it to clients and then add to say that I was lucky cos our manager cared for me and dropped me home on time everyday.

It was good of my manager to think of my safety but do you see that a stereotype was also being fueled? 

By the time I moved out from that job, I had heard things like women cannot code and coding is not a woman’s game.


A couple of years ago, I was talking to an acquaintance who mentioned of leaving work in a month. Curious as I can get, I asked the reason and got to know that this young woman (early 20s) was getting married. So I asked why leave work and then the response surprised me.

“May be my husband and in-laws wouldn’t want me to work after marriage”.

This young woman hadn’t spoken to her would-be husband or his family but was ready to quit a full-time job in a scenario that wasn’t even in the picture. The marriage was just arranged and there was easily six months to go but she went ahead and left the job.

Why do women give up before they should?


As International Women’s Day was approaching, a friend in another company reached out me for names of women leaders in technology. I gave her a few suggestions I could think of at that moment and then I committed to search on LinkedIn and get back to her. Keeping my word, I punched in the keywords on the network and to my surprise, I got only one name from a set of hundred women. Not that there were no leaders – these were in fields of Finance, HR, Administration but none in Technology.

No, it’s not the lack of skill in women. Very few women make it to the top. Some leave for children, some for marriage and some change fields. And they leave to never get to the workforce or the break in career pushes them back. Some find it hard to find the right support and some keep on trying to be the super woman and take unnecessary stress.

There are women in technology – encourage them and help them grow. 


Gender Parity

Pic Credits : #PledgeForParity

There are many more instances that you and I can think of but that’s not the point. What we learn from those situations is important.

How we ensure that men and women find an equal footage, same opportunity and none is pulled back for biases, how there is no gender pay gap and how good work is appreciated irrespective of who did it. How men and women work together in and out of the home.

And to have all that, remember that change begins with you!


 

My post today is in response to a tag from Esha Mookerjee Dutta of Soul Talk who passed this on to me from Anamika Agnihotri of The Bespectaled Mother. I now pass on the tag to Corinne Rodrigues of Write Tribe for a round-up. This is an initiative of Write Tribe to focus on women through the entire Women’s Day week.

19 Responses

  1. Arti says:

    Change begins from us and programmed as we are to take our decisions from a mindset that is tuned into fear, negative outcomes and stereotypical scenarios, perhaps this change is going to take some time. Small steps at a time as you have said, awareness of our being and sourcing power from a strong belief system is the need of the hour. Great post, Parul!

  2. richa singh says:

    Parul I cannot agree more. I have almost ghost written things I like these in my head through the innumerable conversations one overhears at work.

    Parity is paving way to customised solutions. Accepting we are different, not highlighting.

  3. Great topic. But very refreshingly, I have cases at my Singapore office where seniors women leaders have ‘stay at home’ husbands, taking care of their kids, managing the house and have happily given up their jobs for their wives to go ahead in their careers. How many such men have we heard of in India?

  4. Aseem says:

    The case of the girl who left her job just thinking that her in – laws wouldn’t law is quite sad to be honest. As you said one should be the change you wish to see. Along with that its important that the husband and the family support you in pursuing your goals as well.

    I am reminded of a cricketer of the Indian women’s team who after her pregnancy lost about 20 kgs and is now working to get back to playing cricket again. It’s all about the effort, support and the courage to fulfill your dreams :).

    Thinking about a country like Russia, I have heard from my colleagues there that women get upto 2-3 years of maternity leave which has about 1.5 years of paid leave. These things go a long way in helping women.
    Aseem recently posted…I want to take my blog to the next level #BlogchatterMy Profile

  5. Geets says:

    Be the change you wish to see and that is the best way to break all the stereotypes. The quote is perfect and the examples that you have given above are ubiquitious.. It happens with everyone. And leaving work after marriage.. Honestly, its no big deal in the North.. Seriously, I see so many women doing that and so happily as well without realizing what are they doing/sacrificing.
    A person I know, she was working pretty well before marriage and then got fed up of the corporate life and left the job and got married. Just a few months later, she realized she missed working, she missed her independence and when she had conversation with her husband about the same, her husband was pretty clear that they had the talk before marriage about her not working and now why is she changing her mind all of a sudden? Moreover, even if she starts working, that has to suit the family needs, be it about the timings or the kind of job or anything that would find be PERMISSIBLE! And all of this with an educated woman who is wedded in a very well to do family!

    It really surpises why women give so much of power to conquer people around her other than herself..

    The post is really well written Parul 🙂

    Cheers

  6. Sampada says:

    It is the woman’s mindset that needs to change first. Even before we ask men to treat us equally, women need to believe that they can be much more than a care-giver. And she has the right to be what she wants to be, only she might have to give a little fight.

    I hate seeing women who drop everything they like to do to please the husband and in-laws. Its time they thought for themselves and stood up for themselves.

    A great post as usual.

  7. Mabel Kwong says:

    This is such a great post to push for gender parity and gender equality. Gender stereotypes are still pervasive these days, just like you said when to hear your boss dropped you home as the men stayed back to work. I didn’t know that such a thing existed, but given the cultural norms there it seems to be something not surprising to the locals. I don’t know if you felt glad or more sad to move on from the job?

    Women are capable of what they want to do. All we have to do is put our mind to it and work towards it. If it means taking a different approach than others, then use a different approach. Breaking down the stereotype will be hard but the more we don’t speak up about that, the more we won’t get anywhere.

    • Parul Thakur says:

      I left the job because software development wasn’t my interest. But culturally if men drop women home it’s like chivalry. So, ever after 10 years, I have seen men offering. We need to talk about this and that is important. The more we keep quiet, the more we will feed in to stereotypes.

  8. Totally agree with these points. Especially with regard to the woman who did not even think to talk to her fiance before already deciding that he or his mom may not like her working. That is the kind of mentality that needs to change.
    Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Is rape sanskari too, now?My Profile

  9. Change does begin with us and if we see a gap, the first responsibility we have is to ask for support irrespective of the fact whether we are employed in a corporate or we sray at home. There is absolutely no need to work under stress which can push us to the brink. Should I feel sorry for that woman who without even speaking to her future husband or in-laws left the work force? My mind questions why did she give up before even trying.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…Changing Mindsets, Sharing Responsibilities – #PledgeforparityMy Profile

  10. Sid says:

    I’ve been reading news that say it will be 2113 before women achieve parity standards with me. I’m sure if we all worked collectively, we can pull it forward by a considerable amount.
    Even the smallest changes in our mindset and attitudes help, I believe.

  11. Oh that story about that young woman is sad. Isn’t it true that sometimes we women perpetuate these things ourselves. I wonder what she will do now? I too stopped working after marriage, but that’s because I opted out of the business partnership I was in and didn’t find an alternative in Mumbai that was worth my time. Jose was absolutely fine if I wanted to stay in that partnership and travel between Hyderabad and Mumbai. But it was my choice and I had the experience to redefine what I wanted to do.
    About the glass ceiling, it’s so frustrating for women working in corporates to keep encountering that. But we have to press on.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Unequal At Birth #PledgeForParityMy Profile

  12. Nabanita says:

    I think the lesson here is to do what we want to do and not keep sacrificing coz we are women. A woman is much much more than just a wife or a mother & she needs to remember that. I haven’t yet worked in a company where they are willing to give flexible hours to help women continue their careers along with their fanily. Maybe it will happen soon. But we need to keep trying.

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Yes, Nabanita. We need to try. In Infosys – a friend work from a different office for 3 months after maternity to stay close to baby’s day care. So they too support. Ask for it!

  13. Red handed says:

    Such a refreshing post. Women tend to be their own enemies. We wonder if we are eligible to everything that a man is allowed to be or do. We are ready to kill our dreams just for the sake of the happiness of our family. I believe it’s injected in us. That is precisely the problem.

  14. Bellybytes says:

    As usual a thought provoking post.

  1. March 12, 2016

    […] I remembered it when I read Parul Thakur’s post ‘Change begins with you‘ […]

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