It was not too long ago that women of our country were boxed into playing the roles of mothers, daughters, and wives by society.
Globalisation, better economic welfare, the rise of NGOs, social networks, and parents becoming better educated have all but shattered such traditional notions, enabling women to strive for professional identity.
But the road to prosperity has been anything but smooth. Even today, women face challenges that their male counterparts are completely oblivious about.
Women are increasingly finding their footing in the corporate world, but perhaps at a much slower rate than one would have hoped for. In many articles published and surveys conducted worldwide, it has been confirmed that women’s role in the corporate world has improved it, and yet the hurdles they face are the products of a bygone era.
Whether it is sexual harassment, gender bias, or the contribution of women not getting recognised, many have the preconceived mindset that XY chromosomes always supersede XX chromosomes when it comes to matters of competence.
Even in progressive societies like the West, or family-oriented societies like the East -- climbing to reach the summit of any professional career for women has been a tough exercise over the years. Our society is no exception, of course.
From my own professional experience, along with the experiences of some of my colleagues and various reported incidents elsewhere, outlined below are some of the concerns that I feel working women in our society face in their daily lives.
How female employees are perceived
During the recruitment process, there are many positions which discreetly imply a preference of men over women. These positions mostly include services that require interaction with the external environment, frequent travel, or physical exertion, and are offered to men more, regardless of their counterparts’ abilities.
This narrows down job options for us. Some companies may argue that it is fair given the security concerns women may face in our society. But that is where the issue lies when it comes to companies ensuring proper security services for female workers.
More often than not, we have been cultivated to think and expect that men are the primary source of income in the family. But such a creed has notoriously influenced the minds of the corporate decision-makers while deciding the remuneration of women in the workplace.
Why does Jamila need a raise when she is not responsible for raising a family, unlike Jamal? And if somehow Jamila is a girl from an affluent family, then why work at all? The fact is, many women in our society are contributing just as much towards the welfare of the household as men.
Women constantly face harassment in the workplace -- taunts for just being women
It has been culturally woven into our minds for women to restrain themselves and not raise our voices regarding our needs and wants -- a characteristic of women that has been artifically developed to help them find suitors.
Such characteristics do not prove helpful in negotiating what one rightfully deserves in the workplace.
Women are reluctant in showing aggressiveness or taking credit that they are due, unlike their male counterparts, and therefore get left behind.
Acceptance of moderation to avoid conflict seems to be an innate quality in women. Most men are very vocal about their rights and will not shy away from demonstrating their needs -- a trait that, perhaps, we can emulate from them.
Living up to expectations
We are expected to play the role of the mother and the wife, and, with admiration, are expected to show our modernity in this so-called “equal” society.
Even though we have shown the audacity to balance these two lives over the years, the status quo is still quite skewed against us.
As much as we would like to, after working for 9-10 hours, we should not be expected to come home, prepare a kingly feast on the table, deal with our children’s homework, and then prepare a power point presentation for meeting the next day.
Sadly, though women have repeatedly proven themselves, the upper management of most firms still comprise of men.
Women constantly face harassment in the workplace -- taunts for just being women.
However, it is possible for women to find more comfort in the workplace than anywhere else.
We do have private and public organisations working to make things better, but it has to start from within.
A woman needs to identify her goals in life, communicate her purpose, and work towards it.
Getting out of her comfort zone and announcing her purpose with self-assurance should be the primary task at hand.
Mahzabeen Faruque is a freelance contributor.