Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Indian Women: Job versus Career?
This has been a long pending blog topic for me and finally here I am writing about something that is of great significance to me. It has always been a struggle for me to clearly distinguish between a non-working woman (which is easy to comprehend), a woman who has a job and a career woman.
The differences have never been more pronounced in my entire life than when I got married. I come from a household where almost every woman, except my grandmother, went to work and also took care of the house. My husband comes from a family where the older generation women haven't gone out trying to be the breadwinner but have stayed home baking the bread for the family. Does that mean that one is better than the other?
First of all, everybody has a right to choose their life and decide what they want to do with it. In my grandmother's time, even the SSLC educated women had to stay home and go through a rough patch with their in-laws and going to work was as impossible as having an interest to pursue higher education. Even if that happened at home, cooking, housework, doing services for the older in-laws and having babies were the priority. Even focussing on your husband was taboo without the in-laws consent.
Two types of women personalities emerged out of this experience when their daughters and sons grew up-
The women who were supressed and deprived of a lot of rights in their younger days grew to become aggressive mothers who educated their daughters (our mothers) and sent them to work and got them married and still urged them to continue working so that they would have a better life than their mothers.
Another type of women personalities who went through the same hardships and even forgot to think independently, taught their daughters and sons to have a good education and imbibe the family values and tradition of respecting the opinions of the older generation and that staying home was not a bad option, but a wiser one to raise a good family and let the man be the sole breadwinner. This was applicable to the daughters-in-law specifically who got married into these households.
As a result, the same two types of mother personalities evolved with the ones having daughters and going to work themselves, supporting their girls to go overseas for graduate studies and welcomed the idea that their daughter should also have an equal partnership in matrimony and contribute to the economic upliftment of the quality of life by going out and working, be it here in a software company in the US or in Bangalore.
The other kind of mothers who themselves weren't employed in their life, did not urge or encourage their daughters and daughters-in-laws to have a job. Instead, their focus was on telling these women, in fact, many of them who are independent in all ways that neglecting the husband and home to bring income wasn't necessary and frowned upon as having too much freedom etc.
But, sadly these people (includes the spouses of non-working women) never see it that way. With the changing trends in the world's globalization, Indian women are storming traditional male bastions both in India and here in US. They are pursuing careers these days. Of course, there are many women out there who are satisfied with just having a job to earn money and gain economic independence. But, a lot more women these days are churning out to become career oriented- they want to do more than a job, they want to pursue personal and professional goals. Even though that kind of change is slowly happening, the success rate isn't that high yet. Such kind of career women don't have their path cut out so easily- they need to be able to climb the professional ladder and yet make sure that they are successful in the home front as well- right from organizing the house, ensuring that the equally hi-tech husband does his part of the home chores and also raise kids in a western environment. And the higher you grow in your position, the more challenges one must face. If it is a business or marketing position, then travel becomes part of your job description.
Finally, since many women have the tendency to play superwoman- trying to excel in all her roles, planning and maintaining the work and balancing the personal life becomes critical. Also, this career graph can never be plotted without the complete support of the spouse, not only in a verbal fashion, but also to sort out all issues that evolves, since a career entails sacrifices and compromises.
Hmmm......have we come a long way from our grandmother's generation.....keep the spirits alive and share your comments.