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REACHING CAREER SUMMIT Proper planning help women reach the top of their field

REACHING CAREER SUMMIT

Proper planning help women reach the top of their field with fulfilling family life, reports IMMANUEL CYRUS

It is generally common knowledge that women employees can have a difficult time with regard to balancing their professional career and family life. Difficult home circumstances have a greater chance of negatively affect a woman’s performance at work and vice versa. Rising numbers of women travelling in the Delhi Metro during peak hours is a clear indicator that the times are changing and that women are gaining greater acceptance in the workplace at least when it comes to Delhi. Furthermore women in general are hesitant to ask and receive bonuses and perks at work which leads to a less fulfilling professional career. This also may be a cause of the wage gap that many people allege exist between men and women. This has been comprehensively studied in several scientific papers and was revealed to be a significant factor in why women burn out rather early as compared to men. The glass ceiling does not only exist because of the fact that women are not promoted but also because there are less women asking for promotion as compared to men. Scientific studies regarding work life balance and support.

A 2016 industry study revealed that 28% of women employees are not happy with their current salary, compared with 23% in the Asia Pacific region. The same study revealed that a whopping 68% of women are not confident of finding a job within the next three months. Another factor is social support that has consistently emerged in scientific studies as an important factor that influences workfamily balance in a positive manner. Social support outside of work may come from an employee’s spouse or partner, parents, siblings, children, extended family, and friends. Numerous studies have demonstrated that personal social support is positively associated with the work-family balance.   

A survey conducted in 2004 indicated that only 34% of husbands extended help willingly to their wives. 22% of husbands sometimes helped out but a large proportion still subscribed to the traditional role and did not extend help to their wives. The role of workplace support, i.e., the support received from supervisors and coworkers is another critical element of work family balance.

STILL WOMEN REACH THE TOP OF THEIR PROFESSION

Despite all the negativity there are many ordinary women both in the capital, Delhi and other places who manage to reach the  top of their field despite various hurdles. Dr *Shekha, Government official, Central Government, age 61 Having done her Ph.D at the age of 40, much later than the normal age at which women generally complete their Doctorate, Dr Shekha is one of the few women at the head of their department in New Delhi’s bureaucracy. Working for the Central Government is often seen as a cushy position and promotions are virtually guaranteed if one keeps their nose clean but this also involves being able to adjust to different situations, especially political ones.

As a single mother, pursuing her career would have been impossible without the aid of immediate family especially during emergency situations. However, she feels that lack of spousal restrictions has helped her to make her own decisions independently with regards to her career. “Working in a new place where the language and culture are totally different from the ones you have grown up in are very big hurdles for any woman who wants to shift to another state or city for the sake of their career,” she says. Emphasizing the role of persistence in pursuing ones career, she says that although circumstances have changed in recent times with larger amounts of women joining the workplace, it is still difficult for women who fight traditional patriarchal attitudes at the workplace.

Mrs *Gangotri, Marketing Head, Nestle, age 35

As a department head responsible for the marketing activities of an entire state, Gangotri has been with Nestle from the start of her career. Career growth within Nestle as with most private organisations is based mostly upon results. With a husband who is often away from home due to professional commitments, it would have been difficult for her to manage the household without the aid of her mother in law with whom she has a very good relationship. Taking care of the two children is often a challenge with which her mother in law and the house maid help a lot. Even her husband contributes to the share of the child related work like dropping them at school on the way to his work place. Nestle has family friendly options and allows their employees to work from home and also allows for teleconferencing during meeting times. However mandatory nationwide meetings and international training programs are unavoidable circumstances which need to be planned around.

WORKPLACE AND FAMILY STRATEGIES THAT SUCCESSFUL WOMEN PURSUE

Getting an education early in life is critical to achieving career advancement, financial security and independence. This not only applies to women but is essential for men also. Time Management is essential when it comes to utilising the time spent at work to the best extent possible. Try to prioritize your tasks and reduce the time taken to complete them. That way the likelihood of a home conflict reduces. Be financially prepared for the unexpected and plan for an emergency before an emergency happens but at the same time one should be confident to take career related risks as these can pay off dramatically. Child Care is a huge hurdle without the aid of mothers, mother in laws and household maids. Nowadays some of the big corporations, in India, have already adopted serving their staff with facilities to help them house their kids within, or near, the company premises.

Avail of the Maternity and Paternity leaves. Under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act of 2016, the maternity leave has been raised from 12 to 26 weeks. For women, with more than two children, the leave is compressed to 12. Furthermore, according to Mercer, more than 75% of Indian based companies have paternity leaves. Work from home is now a concept that many companies are now open to. Not only parents with kids at home, but also ones with sick or aging family members can avail this provision. Find trusted mentors and mentees, build your network of mentors to help guide and support you. Help others to develop leadership skills.Think carefully, creatively and strategically about how you develop and maintain your networks.