Stereotypes and Biases in Appointing Women Leaders in Indian Corporate
The plight of women from confined cages to public stages had been long. It is the 21st century, yet we cannot say that women are independent to make their own life choices.
Women had been efficient managers of the household for generations without acknowledgments. Education, various evolutions, feminism all had an important role in propelling women towards opportunities. Still, most of them are deprived of chances and find themselves living as characters sketched by society.
While women walk through stereotyped blockages every day to reach workplaces, unconscious gender biases further block their spaces. We all have biases fogging up our vision most of the time. Women’s employment doesn’t jump the stats because of the unconscious gender bias that women face, and being a minority everywhere leaves women with harsh experiences.
Women have to jump hurdles every day to stay as employees; to become someone in power will have to walk on water. They have to fight for their position and work twice as hard as any man. The oppression that women face is double-fold. Their potentials are swept under the rug by every organization that considers them liabilities.
Gender bias and stereotypes become predominant in playing out these difficulties for women. Women leaders are still a rare specimen in corporate firms around the world. In India, the land that worships women as goddess wants them to stay abstract and divine inside the walls they have made.
The percentage gap between women employees and women leaders in Indian corporate is wider than the distance between earth and moon. From their gender to personality, everything becomes a question of worth when it comes to women.
Women, thy name fragility!
Most women grow with compassion and sensitivity, which the society had listed as weaknesses. Men assert more dominance and strength, which without a doubt is what society considers to be the characteristics of a perfect leader. Organizations want women to work with the desired amount of masculine traits without losing touch with their femininity.
Gender and ambitions
Women with ambitions face more backlashes because they are supposed to be compliant workers, not visionaries. In men, aims become the expression of strength. Women with aims get called “selfish” for choosing themselves. They have to overcome both external and internal conditioning to shine successfully.
Lack of experimental Space
Women underplay their potentials because of the stereotypes they face everywhere and become their barriers. Women do not have ample space and scope to make and learn from their mistakes, as all their actions are magnified and scrutinized. These make them less of an asset to an organization, which wants its employees to have strong voices and opinions. The inequality shapes itself into internal questions of worth, where they end up questioning the credibility of their hard-earned successes.
Family and the Guilt card:
The patriarchal Indian families that thrive on exploitation and imbalanced burdens want women to carry their worries with elegance. This elongated chord of responsibilities makes it difficult for women to attend out-of-hours functions and social gatherings to increase their professional networks. This lack of connections is also a disadvantage for women in their careers where they stand stranded without familiar hands to guide them forward. Women also face the lack of female mentors in power to hold their backs.
These are the biases and stereotypes prevalent in appointing women leaders in Indian Corporates. We have to unlearn biases and give women their space to present their potentials without placing them on decorated pedestals.
This article is the winning entry of the #ExpressToInspire contest on the occasion of International Women’s Day organized by DevInsights. The entries were judged by the esteemed panel consisting of Ms. Sumita Hazarika, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court of India and Dr. Deepti Priya Mehrotra, Distinguished Researcher on Gender Rights.