A working woman has her own set of trials and tribulations in our society. While she is fighting the odds of discrimination at her workplace, she is also alongside expected to excel in home making skills.
Entrepreneur spoke to Anna Chandy , Chairperson at The Live Love Laugh Foundation, to understand how can women today maintain worklife balance without having to prove her mettle in both genres.
The following excerpts are from the conversation I had with Ms. Chandy in Bangalore –
“For me I think the position I take as a woman at work itself is fundamentally different. When I say that, I believe that I am woman professional in a society. Therefore when I function, I function as a professional. I don’t see a difference between myself and a male colleague; I think that’s also because of my work,”
The counselling domain in India is largely populated with women, which includes my eight female colleagues. I have always encouraged them to expand certain boundaries, specifically to expand their own professional boundaries and demystify some of their fantasized stereotypical roles.
I think what is important to me is the constant reiteration in my own head that I am a professional. My gender is an identity that I have been given from a social platform. In a professional platform, I am equal.
Start educating early
My advice is that we need to break our own convictions and values as women. There are very peculiar set of myths and beliefs that I see in a day-to-day scenario. For example, when you observe a typical scene at a school bus stop, you’ll see professional women coming with their children. My general observation has been that you’ll find children handing over their back packs to their mother. What is the message you are giving to the child when you are starting to do this at an early stage? Especially if it’s a male child, you are telling him at some level that somebody is going to fetch and carry for you.
So he grows up with this norm and therefore for me I have always share with my trainees that as mothers and professionals, first you need to encourage education and growth in your own womb. There exists a concept of differentiated love in our society, wherein girls and boys are treated differently at homes.
The burden of over expectations
There is a sense of over expectations from women in our society. I also think that women struggle with the need to excellent to be multi-tasking. When I say excellent, I mean I want to be the perfect home maker, a perfect professional and a perfect mother. At one level there is an expectation and we also feed into the society expectation by driving ourselves into multi-tasking and are excellent in every task we do.
For me, it’s completely okay for an older woman to say “I don’t like cooking” Why do you have to do it? It’s okay if you are not doing the cooking at homes. We also need to re-evaluate and re-assess our own belief system.
The Millennial generation today -- the good and bad
I’ve observed some really wonderful traits in the millennial generation today, which I value and respect. To me the current generation is much more open, very much authentic about what’s going on in your life and much more focussed.
The flip side to that or the other side of the coin, which is possibly causing some distress, is that there is so much focus that there rises a need for instant gratification. Therefore, I am not willing to wait it out to achieve what I need and not having the ability to wait it out I thereby tend to get distressed, agitated and cause a lot of stress. The second part that I see is, the flipside of openness is that at times my life is such an open book that it seems to be open to people who can misuse it. Mediums like social media can be very well misused. It can also be that I have a thought and I need to open about my thought, but I have not really processed the consequences of putting out these thoughts in multiple social platforms. For example, now days you’ll see a lot of difficulties being faced by people because of some comment passed on Twitter and I think that comes from openness and that in a sense lacks boundaries in different spaces.
In terms of authenticity, I consider it to be a special characteristic and yet we need to be authentic selectively. Authenticity does not mean I say something about some other person without being sensitive to the way it’s going to be received by that person. To me authenticity along with sensitivity is what is essential. Authenticity on its own can also cause distress and when one isn’t sensitive it leads to miscommunication, misunderstanding and therefore not looking at something long-term. It’s just very momentary.