We often see how women are applauded for multi-tasking, which has essentially become a euphemism for managing both home and work. It might seem like a compliment, but if one evaluates the underlying issues, they are not praiseworthy. In most households, the women are responsible for the chores. The men are knowingly or unknowingly absolved. This is largely to do with upbringing particularly in the Indian society, where men and boys are not encouraged proactively to take on household chores. And so much of this is about conditioning – women are conditioned since birth to naturally assume that all household management is in their kitty, so they don’t really question it. While on the advertisement front, we see several such ads on Indian media which are now talking about “Sharing the Load”, the truth is that, there is a small percentage that have actually changed.
With the primary burden of the chores falling on women, some may choose to focus on the house-related work entirely. Those who choose to pursue their careers, face limitations because they are unable to spend the time or effort a bigger role needs. Their time is divided between house work, children and career, and if they find the time to define it, their passion.
Have a look at the numbers to get a better perspective on what this translates into at a macro-economic level – A the McKinsey study called “The Power of Parity: How equality for women could drive $ 2 trillion in global growth”, has researched and arrived at findings that showed how every “stay-at-home” woman directly damages a country’s GDP by billions. The underlying assumption is that if men contributed more to domestic labour, women can get more time to do paid work outside home.
So then, the struggle is real. As real as it can be when you rush from packing lunches to conference calls, from grocery shopping to client meetings, from children’s homework to project deliverables. Between all these, there is no window of time that allows you as a woman, to revisit your goals and aspirations, and then spend time working on those. Or learning what needs to be learnt, to achieve those. Slowly they slip out of your reach and that is when you feel that they become unattainable, when they were actually within reach just a while ago.
Part of the The solution to this lies with the women themselves – we often forget to define the essentials and non-essentials when it comes to our time. When it comes to household chores, just as it is with our office work, there are elements that can be delegated and there are aspects that need to be shared as a team. The moment we decide to understand and apply this, we know we have the time to work, re-join roles that we aspired for and move towards goals that we had for ourselves, before housework took over. Just as we look for support networks when we work on projects in our workplace, our household chores also require a similar approach. Involving all family members and harnessing any external support that you can manage, are the keys.
That shift is what will bring more women back to the workforce, and more importantly, back to leading a well-balanced life.
If you need support from like-minded women, join the Reboot community.
Reboot designs mentoring programmes for women, shows them how to transition and helps them manage the their way back to work smoothly.
By Simran Oberoi
Simran Oberoi is an independent HR Consultant in Bangalore, with HR Advisory, Knowledge Development and Research expertise of over 13 years, in Rewards & Compensation, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Development, HR & Social Media. She has worked with consulting firms like Hay Group, Aon Hewitt and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the past, in India as well as Asia-Pacific leadership roles. Simran is also a keen baker – you can find her recipes at https://ovenderfulhealthybaking.wordpress.com/