Not enough women
Blog :Miles to go...
Date: 7/8/2012 7:56:09 AM
This started out as a response to a question posed by Birla on facebook. Not enough women in entrepreneurship! This was my reply.
Sigh! I have stopped thinking. Not enough girl children allowed to be born. Not enough survive. Not enough in school. Not enough in Science in +2. Definitely not enough in PCM. Not enough taking JEE. Not enough women in IIT. Not enough in IIM. Not enough in technology. Not enough in professional life. Not enough in breaking the corporate glass ceiling. Not enough entrepreneurs. It’s a funnel, isn’t it? Have been thinking about ‘not enough women’ wherever I am since childhood. Have been numbed by now.
Should I be worried that I have been numbed? I don’t know. But by now, it seems the usual state of affairs to me that wherever I am, there would be very few women. I don’t even notice it. In fact, the opposite happens. At Google, there was this short period towards the end, when I was working with two engineering teams and between the engineers and me, women far outnumbered men (percentage wise – both team were not big). Once fine day, somehow the guys were not around and we all were discussing something related to the projects in a cubicle. Another female employee, from another team, suddenly came in and asked, “What’s going on?” We were surprised. “Nothing. We were just discussing the project.” “Oh! I saw so many women at one place and I wondered what was going on.”
So, yeah. I am not alone who has subconsciously accepted that there won’t be many women around me. And in fact, if we see too many women, we start thinking ‘what is going on?’. (I wonder if she thought we were discussing some workplace harassment situation? What else could bring all the women in one cubicle? )
That way Yahoo’s Women in Tech event, where I went as a panelist was a very different experience. There actually was a room full of women and speaking there was quite a different experience. It felt great.
However, what really does bother me even today is what I am going to call “Women are too burdened” argument. It came up even in the Facebook post comments too, which started this post. The gist of that argument is that women are too burdened with responsibilities to do their own thing. It bothers me especially when it comes from professional women. Because they are the ones, who actually have the opportunity. I wrote another comment on that:
My comment wasn’t meant to defend “women are more burdened” argument. At least not for those who are in a job. Here is why. If you are living in the society that is burdening women the traditional way, then there is an upside too. That society burdens women with house and children, but not with finances. That is man’s responsibility in that society. So if you are in a job, you can shirk your financial responsibilities in exchange for house responsibilities and do your own thing professionally.
If you aren’t in a job and house is consuming you full-time, then, of course, entrepreneurship is as hindered as any other profession for women.
Nothing personal. It’s just that most of us can’t be superwomen. We can’t keep everyone happy. Whom to keep happy is our own choice. Why keep blaming the society for that?
My point is that if you have gotten enough opportunities that you have a professional life today, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself happy. If you are happy taking the burden society has supposedly placed on you, then so be it. No need to go out and argue that you can’t do your own thing because society has burdened you. Or that you are doing the men a favour by letting them do their own thing, while you carry this burden. Either you are happy or you are not. If you are not happy, make your own choices. It’s not dictated by the almighty that women have to keep everyone happy. Society might have told you that in the past, but now you are empowered enough to make your own decision. Figure out what makes you happy and work towards that. Trying to make everyone from your employer, to yourself, to your entire extended family on your own and your husband’s side happy, is going to make no one happy. Least of all yourself.
There are women who aren’t allowed to be born, or to survive beyond infancy. There are women who aren’t allowed to study, who are married off to an uncaring husband and a greedy family, who are confined within the four walls of their homes and who do not even know about a better life. There are stories of many of them also coming out of the limitations imposed by the society. When you are not one of them, you are empowered enough. Take charge of your life, instead of taking lazy comfort in thinking “I am too burdened”.