A recent study, conducted by the University of California and the University of Southern California, revealed that women face tougher conditions during interviews as compared to men. The study found that women were more likely to be interrupted while speaking, and face more number of follow-up questions as compared to men. It also found that men were twice as likely to interject while speaking to a woman. Women who are shortlisted with impressive CVs may still be assumed to be less competent. They are constantly faced with the challenge of proving themselves to the interviewers.
But the struggle doesn’t end with the interviews. Many of you might be familiar with the story of Mark Schneider, who was initiated into the treatment of women when he exchanged his email with that of his subordinate, Nicole. He found that clients which he could have handled easily, were constantly questioning and doubting his abilities. He found that women have to work longer and harder to convince the clients to respect their abilities, which takes a toll on their productivity at the workplace.
Both the above scenarios are west-centric. But the Indian society abounds with similar stories of gender bias. The situation might be worse for Indian women, because they haven’t fully penetrated the ranks of the workforce, and aren’t being welcomed or accepted in the workplace. Men dominate the workplace completely, and dealing with their patriarchal mindset is another battle which a working woman has to wage constantly. Men have absolute confidence in the incompetence of women compared to themselves (they often have a skewed perception of themselves) which many women find insulting and disheartening. Women, much more than men, have to prove eligibility for the job they hold and capability to carry it out successfully every day.
Women compete with men on an equal basis in society today, be it in academics or at the workplace. To be accurate, women compete with a disadvantage, encumbered as they are with the societal stipulations of how someone of their gender might or might not behave. They are discouraged from studying and working due to a variety of ill-founded reasons. If they are ‘allowed’ to work, there is sexual harassment to be faced at the workplace, on the streets, and practically everywhere else. Along with their day job, they are expected to take care of the household, cook, clean and look after kids and aging parents. They work two almost full-time jobs – their household and their profession. And in spite of all this, the woman is paid lesser than the man, because greater capability is presumed in the man. Being passed over for a promotion they deserved is a cruel fact of life for them.
Is the image of an equal, impartial workplace forever to remain the stuff of dreams?
By Halak Pandya.
Halak is an undergraduate student pursuing literature. She aspires to be a writer. Halak also holds a Master Diploma in Bharatnatyam and a Black belt in Taekwondo. She describes herself as a luftmensch.