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I have worked for about 10 years now, mostly in the IT industry and also as a professor in an engineering college. All the organizations have something weird in common. Most of the people I have worked with had what I call ‘I Don’t Know Why Women Work’ syndrome. Most of those who suffer from this problem are usually men, but women also can sometimes show the typical symptoms. The most common symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Treating women differently from men despite the same qualifications because they think that she is just working to pass her time since clearly she cannot be the bread-winner of the family.
  • Offering lesser salaries, lower designation to women for the same skill set and experience because they believe that she will never be as serious about her work as her male counterpart. And he needs it more.
  • Promoting an incompetent man over a well-deserving woman simply because he needs the extra money more than her. The reasons for thinking this may vary from him being the only bread-winner, having one degree more than her, needing a morale boost etc etc. (Note that none of the reasons pertain to his or her performances at workplace).
  • Labeling a man’s leave for sick children as ‘dedication’ towards his family while that of a woman as being ‘what do you expect from a woman!’
  • Viewing every married working woman as an ‘ambitious’ bitch who doesn’t care about her husband or children enough to leave them.
  • Viewing every single working woman as a ‘greedy’ witch wanting more and more money to spend on herself.
  • Gossiping about working women all the time and branding them as feminist, bitch, non-serious, undeserving, disloyal etc.

I was asked in an interview “Being a married woman, how will you balance work and family?” And I was like, “Are married men asked the same question?” Of course, I didn’t clear the interview!

One of my bosses told me that I had taken the most leaves in my team. And I asked him, “How many of these are ‘Leave Without Pay’ because if they are not, then it is the amount of leaves the organization has given me as part of my benefits.” He never mentioned my leaves to me again!

When I resigned from one organization in order to move out of the country with my husband, my boss gave me a hard time getting my clearances and salary because he thought I was lying about the reason! Even if I had been, did he have any right to stop me? On the other hand, when men resign, it is assumed they are doing so for more money and it is completely alright with everyone. Why? Do women not deserve to look for better opportunities?

But there are some good bosses out there too. I have known at least a couple myself. They did not treat me any different from my male colleagues. There was this organization where I worked only for a few months and had to leave due to personal reasons. My boss there did not even then have any issues with me. In fact, this was one of the jobs where I felt they gave me what I deserved in terms of salary and position. Also, I was never treated lesser than my male colleagues and never had any issues because of my gender at all. In fact, my boss even told me I was welcome to return anytime.

Then, there are those women bosses who mistreat other women because they think that the other women are not making as many sacrifices as they had to make. They even get into gossiping about other women with their male counterparts just to show that they are ‘one of the guys’. I was in a meeting when one of the managers started commenting on the waist size of a woman he had worked with at onsite and this lady manager who was also present actually started participating in the discussion. I had to get up and excuse myself from the meeting because I couldn’t take it any more. And then I was branded the ‘conscientious bitch’!

One of my bosses told me during an appraisal discussion that some people think I am after the position of one of the guys! When I was finally able to overcome the shock of such an unprofessional and unheard of accusation, I said – “Why his position? He is at the same level as I am. I am after your position!” That was enough to shut him up but till date, I am not able to understand the skewed mentality of this person and the entire team that was perhaps having this kind of discussion about me behind my back.

Then, I was told once that I did not get the highest rating in the appraisal because I leave in time while everyone else stays back. Though they understood I had a family yet I should make an effort! I asked, “Has there been any single task which I was not able to complete in time? Perhaps I manage my time better than everyone else and hence, don’t ‘need’ to stay back! And what about the extra 2 hours that I put in the mornings because I am the first one to arrive at work while everyone comes at their own leisure? What about the long coffee breaks that I don’t take?” Of course, it was all useless because I did not pretend to work by staying back after work hours! I always left ‘in time’!

I have on several occasions told people around me it is simple physics that efficiency is ‘output/input’ not the other way round. But somehow, this simple equation is not so simple to understand by the morons who think a woman who is working is doing so for fun, or for extra pocket money, or to get away from her children, or just because it is the trend.

One of my colleagues told me once that women do not know how to dress up in meetings since they wear an Indian attire to a meeting. I asked him does he look at the men’s attires in a meeting? And you don’t know but there might be someone else who would be criticizing my pant-suits because I was trying too hard!

I consider myself a very ambitious person, yet I have taken breaks from work after the birth of each of my children. When I know I won’t be fairly balancing the work-life, I quit. I was lucky to have the option but sometimes, some people cannot. But I think women who feel that they have to choose one thing over another, usually give more to both work and family and end up being even more effective and efficient than most of us.

In an ideal world, I would like to be treated the same as any colleague of mine, irrespective of my or their gender. But then, in this less than ideal world, I would appreciate if these smart-mouth, clearly-sick men and women kept their thoughts to themselves and when given a fitting answer, either take it in their stride or learn to shut up!

Maybe they are right….I am a feminist 🙂

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Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

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