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Challenges Of Establishing As Woman Leader In a Traditional Sector There are still certain fields of work that are just opening to the idea of women leadership and entrepreneurship although they are still at a nascent stage

By Imaan Javan

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Our history has been a proof that women have established themselves as leaders in any field they stepped in. From fighting wars and saving kingdoms in ancient era to running businesses and country in the modern day, they have aced it all. We have seen the likes of Indira Nooyi, Angela Merkel, Arundhati Bhattacharya, among others, spearheading businesses, financial organizations to countries.

However, having said that, there are still certain fields of work that are just opening to the idea of women leadership and entrepreneurship although they are still at a nascent stage. In India, overall the ratio of male to female employees is 10:1 according to credible reports. As per surveys, women represent on average 11 per cent of the workforce across companies in the renewable energy sector. While inclusion is comparatively higher in the design and pre-construction phase, and corporate functions (at 18 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively) compared with the area of construction and commissioning wherein it is only 3 per cent, only 1 per cent of female employees are seen in operations and maintenance, which involves frequent travel and onsite project work.

Some of the challenges women continue to combat are as follows:

Gender stereotyping

Women have always been looked upon as the ones to juggle between multiple roles at the same time. Working women are expected to un-dauntingly manage home and work with a crippling perception that they might not be able to invest as much of themselves professionally as their male counterparts. This has been an age-old issue which can still be noticed in many organizations. As per surveys by CII's (Confederation of Indian Industries) wing IWN (Indian Women Network), many organizations have reported to have very few women in their senior management roles while some have reported to have no women in the organizations at all.

Pay parity

Pay difference has always been a big issue across all sectors. Even in modern day, women in as high as senior management roles also face pay parity compared to their male counterparts. According to the survey, many women believe that there are still different performance expectations and standards for male and female employees working in the same level thus hampering their rights for equal or higher pay.

Employment gap

Employment gap can be considered a byproduct of the lack of opportunities provided to the women. This may be due to misjudgment of women's capabilities and frail human resource policies that mandate a higher representation of males at company level. One of the key factors for lower participation of women especially in the solar sector includes safety and security concerns at project sites. In addition to these, societal norms and practices at workplaces that fail to be sensitive towards differentiated needs of female employees hence more preference to make recruits than females.

Social penalties

Women face many issues at their workplace or while applying for jobs. One of the key being motherhood or pregnancy. Organizations become skeptical during such times as they opine that the female employees might not be able to invest or perform during such times and end up being disposable resources to the company. At workplace, some of the social penalties that women face are the conventional thinking that they can't lead men. This patriarchal mindset needs to toss at a company level. Although not all, but the comfort of working with men may eclipse and stunt the growth of women in these organizations.

It is important to educate the people on the changing times and the diversities women bring to their work. Women these days are more educated than earlier and hold equal potential like their male counterparts in their respective fields and perform to their optimum potential at the tasks assigned to them. The higher authorities can educate their respective employees to be more liberal and accepting while working under a female superior. They can also become more flexible and introduce certain policies to encourage more inclusion of women in their companies. With these in place, we are hopeful that gradually with changing times; we will get to see more and more inclusion of women in fields which were otherwise perceived as a man's area of work.

Imaan Javan

Director of Operations, Suntuity REI

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