Women on top – the change from a housewife to a CEO
We need to accept the fact that we live in a patriarchal society. Women are the minority and whatever we achieve is supposedly beyond expectation. Women are categorised as the weaker lot. We are supposed to be protected from ‘the prowling man’. This is how the world functions. This is how we have segregated our society from day one. Women are considered as the homemakers and men as the bread earners. Women had one aim in life – To find a suitable husband. The one who can protect her from all the evils in the society, and this society has lived with this ideology through different ages.
The suffragette movement was started as a hope for women to get equal right – To be able to vote. But over the years, even through our freedom and independence, men could not take a woman to be on top (leaving sexual innuendoes out of this context).
Today, we see a stark difference in reality. Though there are people who still believe that women are supposed to be the quintessential housewife, amongst those there are some who challenge that theory. Women are independent, ambitious and are not willing to compromise – be personal or professional.
Even if a woman has dreams, she has it way tougher to achieve them than men. As said before, this is a patriarchal society and it is not easy for women to earn more that her man. It is reviewed as an incompetent factor in the man’s part. Many a times, it is the women’s duty to serve her home. This is what is expected out of her – working is a part-time thing, done to please yourself; so that you can buy your few trinkets and find to pass your free time. The acknowledgement of a plain and simple fact that a woman can easily replace your job doesn’t occur to the society we live in. And if a woman does reach the level to overthrow a man, she finds it difficult to be a leader and men find it hard to follow her footsteps.
When it comes to education, women have grown leaps and bound. According to UNESCO, women enrollment in the graduate level or tertiary educational level has grown almost twice compared to men. Women are equivalent to men when it comes to graduating in field like business, social sciences and law, while men dominate the engineering, constructing and manufacturing. As most of the corporates demand an MBA graduate from a reputed university/institution, most individuals make sure that they achieve this distinction. When you read the educational qualification of any CEO, you definitely see a Masters in Business Administration degree. For example, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, is a Graduate of Stanford; Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, is not only an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management but also Yale; and Margaret Whitman, CEO of Hewett and Packard, is an alumnus of Harvard and Princeton.
These remarkable women have struggled through life and reached that point where they become the leaders. They have faced all the innuendoes and the taunts and with a hard skin and a cold shoulder, they have been able to survive this world and have carved a path for all those future aspirants.
Today, we proudly declare that we do not discriminate on the basis of gender. We have it in our constitution, in our brains and understanding. But why do we tell our daughters to come home safe, and tell our sons to ‘have fun’. Those initial years is when we unconsciously tell the difference between the man and the woman and that difference is carried all though our personal and our professional lives.
We still hear news about how more number of men are being employed at a higher pay for the same job compared to women. Many companies do not hire married or about to be married women thinking that they won’t be able to give 100 percent to their job. However, if a man is settled in his personal life and is applying for the same position, he is said to be stable and good for the company. According to a survey by the Institute of Women Policy Research and posted by Wall Street Journal, which state the disappointing truth – Women earn less than men even at jobs that are considered to be women-centric.
Some companies also have a no-pregnancy clause for women – For a stipulated time since she has joined the company, she can’t get pregnant or it would be breach for contract. Would a man ever be required to sign such a contract?
Even after all this you have those rare gems; those have worked the tough love and made it to the top. But none of them state that the journey was easy. Most of them had to give up something or the other in their life to reach that position – But the truth is they wouldn’t have done it any other way. With the slow change in the male psyche and the remote acceptance that women are nothing but equal in this land of men, we read how few companies are being lead by some of the most successful women. Women currently hold 4.8 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. It is still a bleak start; but hopeful for a better future.
From the motherly figure, the nurturer, the life giver to the World Runners, these women dared to dream beyond what they were taught and told, sketched their own path and made sure that the world hears their boot thumps and takes notice. They are saying it loud and clear – We can have it all. It should be a choice of the woman if she wants to be a housewife or a working professional, not an obligation that is forced upon her.
Today, as we see the slow influx of women in the top and to all those aspirants and the future company heads, hope this world gets better and the gender biases disappears altogether. Yes, indeed that would be a memorable day.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)