Connect with us

Students' Column

Women and Career: Barriers, Work-Life Balance, and Betterment of Society

Published

on

Ambitious career woman

Image by Divine Harvester

Of the Fortune 500 CEO’s, a meagre 21 of them are women. This basically translates to 4.2 %. Out of 195 independent countries worldwide, only 17 are led by women. Only 20% of the seats in parliaments globally are occupied by women. This means that when major decisions influencing a large number of people are made in the boardrooms and parliaments of the world, men are making these decisions.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee was at a book party celebrating the launch of her autobiography “Mighty Be Our Powers” hosted by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. She is also celebrated for leading women’s protests against Liberia’s dictator. During the party, someone asked her how American women could help the women who were victims of incidents like mass rapes in places like Liberia. Many thought she would reply with the name of an organization to donate money, but instead she replied with four words that forms one of the main points of this article. She said, “More women in power”. Now I had never even heard of Ms Gbowee till I read about her in an excellent book called Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg- which you should read by the way- but I applaud and admire her for her message because it is so, so true.

When more women work to the top of their careers they will be able to take the decisions that will help other women. When we read horrific incidents in papers about girls getting raped and ill-treated, we can grab our signs and march around and we can social network about I furiously, or we the women, can do our best to work it to the top of our respective career tables and we can ensure that we make the laws to protect women. A small example- In 2004 when Sheryl Sandberg was running online sales and operations groups at Google, she also happened to be pregnant with her son. Sandberg women face a full 9 months of morning sickness, so one morning, she rushed to office for an important client meeting, feeling heavily nauseated. Google was at the time a very fast growing company and Sandberg writes that parking was an ongoing issue. She parked rather far away and slowly waddled to the office for the meeting. This of course made her nausea worse and she prayed dearly that sales pitch would be the only thing that came out of her mouth at the meeting. That night she spoke to her husband Dave Goldberg about her troubles when he told her that at his then company Yahoo, they had pregnancy parking. The next day Sandberg march-waddled into Google founders’ Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s office and demanded pregnancy parking. They agreed immediately. Having one woman at the top made all the difference to many pregnant women to work at Google thereafter. Sandberg proudly notes that the pregnancy parking remains even to this day.

Barriers preventing women from reaching the top

There is no doubt that at the school and university level, girls are as good-if not better- than the boys. Girls are increasingly outperforming the boys in the famous ICSE and ISC board exams with 98.78% of the girls passing the ICSE board exams compared to the 97.73% of the boys; while in ISC it is 96.66% for the girls and 93.91% for the boys. The pass percentage in CBSE 10th exams was more or less the same with 98.94% of the girls passing and 98.64% of the boys passing. In the 12th exams also 87.98% of the girls passed with 77.78% of the boys passing. I think these numbers prove that the girls are very much capable of excelling and reaching the top of their careers. So this isn’t the problem. Then what is? Well the thing is, there are internal and external barriers preventing women from reaching the top.

Let’s start with external. Let’s take a word that is carelessly thrown around these days- “bossy”. You go to a school or an office and you hear this adjective being used to describe girls and women. But men? No. Rarely, or never. The reason is mainly because women are expected to be underplayed and soft- so when women speak up and stand up for themselves, they are deemed bossy. Men on the other hand are expected to be Outspoken and well- loud. Men are expected to be ambitious and chase after their dreams in career- women are expected to stay at home and keep house. A woman chasing her career dreams and being ambitious breaks unwritten rules of social conduct and is insulted and often shut out by society. In fact in my old school, we had a woman coming in for a Home Science demo class- the first thing she came in and said- You’re girls; you need to learn how to keep house. Home Science is a very important subject for you. This sends the wrong message to girls who want to work it to the top of their careers.

Another very important barrier- Success is positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. In 2003, Columbia Business School professor Frank Flynn and NYU professor Cameron Anderson ran an experiment to see how women and men are perceived in the workplace. They picked a real life Harvard Business School case study of a woman named Heidi Roizen. Half of the students were assigned to read Heidi’s story and the other half the same story- except the name Heidi was changed to Howard. The students were then polled about their impressions of Heidi/Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent, but Howard came across to them as a more appealing colleague. Heidi was called selfish and not the type of person one would want to work for.

Women who do well are not liked- by men AND women. As if this isn’t bad enough- studies show that in a picking of a police chief, if women possess certain qualities, those qualities are deemed more important and if she doesn’t they become very important. It is the exact opposite for men. Once again- this gender blindness is by both men and women.

Now: the internal barriers faced by women. The Imposter Syndrome: the name really says it all doesn’t it? When women do well or succeed at something, they feel fraudulent, as if “someone will catch them”. I have experienced this first hand. My old school had till the tenth grade and after, I applied to an elite school ranked number 1. I was shocked when they took me in without so much as an entrance test and checked my mail every day for them to send me a mail saying that my admission was a mistake and that they take it back. I was sure they would “catch me red handed.” I was sure I had gotten lucky and my friends and teachers voiced that opinion even though my parents protested against it. My SAT prep book advised me to pick hard courses in high school. Following its’ advice in the 9th grade I picked a subject about java which I was sure I would flunk in the 10th finals. When I finally got an 83, I was shocked and sure that there was some mistake. Then I thought- “Mom helped me on my project and it was pretty good. The viva questions were pretty easy so I did do pretty okay on that. Mom helped me a lot to study. I got quite lucky.” Ask a woman why she thinks she did well, she will attribute it to help from others and getting lucky. Ask a man and he would say- what? I’m awesome! What kind of a question is that? Women are naturally not so confident and not likely to raise their hands and voice their opinions. When applying for a job, men apply if they meet some of the qualifications and women only if they meet all of them. This makes women turn down a lot of great opportunities. Every time I think about signing myself up for a competition- I’m doubtful of whether I should, sure I’ll lose horribly and sure I’m not good enough. A boy would jump and kick people out of his way to take the opportunities I’ve turned down deeming incompetence.

Work and life balance

Now, one of the main reasons holding women back- the reason this is neither under internal or external barriers is because this is a little bit of both situation- household chores and childcare. Women decide that they must pick between a career and having a happy married life with children. Now if men can have both, why can’t women? When it comes to just married life it is definitely not true that a working woman with a successful job and career can’t have a good marriage and can’t be married. For example, in the 21 women of the Fortune 500 CEO’s, 19 are married, 1 is divorced and only 1 is single. Now when it comes to children, women believe that they cannot raise a child and work. Also, women leave work and decide that they can have just one of the two way too early.

Peggy Orenstein- the author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”- tells the story of a 5 year old girl who comes home from school looking disturbed. When her mother asks her what was wrong, she says that both she and the boy she likes want to become astronauts. Her mother asks her what’s wrong with that and she says, “Well, when the both of us have to go to space who will stay back to look after our kids? I think it will have to be me.” That is one very smart little girl because sadly, that is true. Women start thinking about balancing work and home far too early. The funny thing is- even when they get pregnant, they have nine months to prepare.

I saw a special on TV about a small restaurant in Kerala run by women completely. The restaurant is crazy popular and busy, and most days they work up till 9 pm. They then have to go home and do all the housework as well. So ineffectually, they end up with 2 full time jobs. There are many women all around the world with ungrateful partners who refuse to help with 50% of household chores and childcare. It is important that partners’ are sensitive to women’s careers and help with half off the work at home. That way, the household gets more economic support to raise the children; something very important what with the rising prices of groceries, fuel and other necessities. My aunt and uncle are great examples of leaning in at work and at home. They both have full time jobs, and not one child, but twin boys. They have neatly split up the chores and childcare hence working extra hard at work and raising two awesome little men.

When fathers are great examples- and believe me there are men out there like that and they are the most attractive kind- sons are inspired to be like that when they grow up and we have more women able to work it all the way to the top.

Bringing the change and making the society used to

Another problem is the way people perceive this equal splitting. In society, the men are supposed to be the breadwinners and the women are supposed to take care of the children and homes. So when they see a woman in the office and a man in the playground, they get put off. This has to change. When I was in the 4th grade, my classmate asked me what my mother did. I told her that she worked in an office. She did a double take and announced proudly- My mother doesn’t do that, she stays at home to cook me my favourite things, take care of me and take me out. My father works in an office.

One of my favourite stories on the Lean In Org online page –www.leanin.org- is about a young woman who was raised in the US but comes to a village in India for college. Her parents bring her; get her a car and a driver. She protests furiously saying that she wants to get her own license and not depend on any driver. The cab driver answers quickly saying that it is not safe for a girl to drive on her own and that none of the women in the village drive. Her parents go back to the US and as college progresses she secretly learns driving from her driver and starts driving herself to college. People start staring and whispering at first, but as time goes on they not only get used to it, but all the girls and women start learning driving. They are more independent and don’t have to depend on any men to go anywhere.

My reason for relating this story is to say that as more women become working it to the top and more men start taking care of the house and the children, society will not only get used to it, but also start practicing the same themselves. Once people at top positions understand the gender blindness they will be able to make wiser choices while picking people for promotions keeping in mind that women are disliked for being successful. Women can understand their feelings of being “unworthy” and “frauds” are not true and start grabbing more opportunities.

I love how Nora Ephron put it in her 1996 Wellesley commencement speech while talking about women having families and careers, “It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading
Comments

Students' Column

4 Tips To Help Tradesmen Advance Their Careers

Published

on

Learning a trade is a great way to start a stable career with plenty of opportunities. People will always need plumbers, carpenters and builders, and if you are good at what you do, you should be able to find plenty of work. It’s best to start out working for another company before eventually starting your own business. However, a lot of contractors find that they grow to a certain point and hit a bit of a wall. If you are struggling to advance your career as a tradesman, here are a few tips to help you reach the next level.

Be Reliable 

This is by far the most important thing to remember if you want to advance your career. A lot of your business comes from word of mouth, and if you are not reliable, people will not recommend you to their friends and family. People are always concerned about dealing with a dodgy tradesman, so it’s important that you show people that you are professional and reliable. Always take care with your work and be realistic about the time scale for a job. If you promise to do things too quickly, you will either finish late or rush the job and the quality of the work will be poor. 

Learn New Skills 

Learning new skills is so important if you want to expand your customer base and take on new jobs. For example, if you take a course with an accredited excavator trainer, you can start taking on larger jobs without the need to hire another person to operate heavy machinery. If you’re a kitchen fitter, why not take some plumbing courses so you can do the entire job without having to call subcontractors in? Expanding your skill set allows you to vary the jobs that you take on, and you will have more work available to you.

Build Your Network 

Networking is important in the trade industry because it can open doors for you. If you can build a network of other tradesmen, they will be able to help you find work and if you build relationships with big companies, they will be able to get you onto big commercial jobs that you would not otherwise be able to land. 

Get Online 

Although word of mouth is important for tradesmen and you will get a lot of work off the back of recommendations, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to market yourself. A lot of tradesmen underestimate the importance of an online presence, and they miss out on a lot of work because of it. If people need some work done and they can’t get a recommendation from friends and family, they will head online and do a search. That’s why it’s important that you have a professional website and active social media pages. If you post pictures of your past work online, you should see an increase in queries and you will get a lot more work. 

If you follow these important steps, you can advance your career and start landing some bigger clients.

Prev postNext post
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Students' Column

Things you need to know before studying architecture

Published

on

architect

Architecture is defined in different ways depending on the scope in which its definition is exposed, since it can be in external environments or among people who have the same profession. Through architecture, we can shape the places where people live or work through a collaborative process. Do you want to know everything you need to know before studying Architecture? Keep reading!

Tips for future architecture students: what skills do I need?

Architecture is the science, technique and art of ensuring that our buildings and cities correspond to the way we want to live. So the constructions are the reflection of our way of life, where beautiful forms are made with logic and taste.

With architecture, places are built, designed, projected or modified in all areas, whether in open air spaces, buildings, urban structures, houses, and more. Currently, professional architecture studies are highly requested by young people as they offer a good rate of job opportunities. And also because wages are often high, especially in Europe. This is why studying an Architecture Master in Europe is convenient.

Creativity

Being creative is having the ability to invent something. This can be based on observation in order to generate an innovative idea. In architect’s creativity is a very important capacity, which is usually combined with a high level of logic, since a mixture of both is required.

Aesthetic sense

It is necessary that the aesthetic sense is present in all constructions. But a functional part is also needed, so this is why professionals are able to mix this practicality with aesthetics in order to create harmony. It is very important to develop sensitivity and observation in everything that surround us.

Attention to details

A good architect appreciates all kinds of details. When something is built details cannot be ignored, so this is interiorized in such a way that later it is inevitable for them to be in any space without observing all kind of details. Within this attention, colors, finishes, materials, lighting and much more are involved, all mixed in a way that creates a clear harmony.

Teamwork skills

It is necessary to work as a team in many projects. In almost all areas of architecture it is impossible to work alone because it is very difficult for a single person to carry out a whole project. It must be taken into account that the dimensions of most architectural constructions are large. So relationships with other professionals, such as engineers, designers and builders are essential. In addition, they all help each other constantly to concretize ideas in a better way.

Spatial perception

For an architect the ability to draw is not essential. However, it is convenient to develop this skill in order to perceive spaces better, and thus more easily carry out your ideas in a three-dimensional way. 

It is also important to note that when talking about drawing in the world of architecture, the kind that it is referred is a geometric one, where the management of spaces is present. It has nothing to do with creative drawing. So it is not necessary for future students to have artistic skills.

There are plenty of reasons to study architecture, it’s just a matter of deciding to study it. You will see that it is a beautiful and interesting career, which helps us develop many skills and be successful.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Students' Column

Jobs For People Who Love Science

Published

on

earth science jobs

If you love science, then you might find that there is a career path that will really interest you and provide you with a job that you love doing until your retirement. People who work in science are basically gathering information and this can be achieved in a variety of ways, through different specialities and methods.

It’s not all about the chemistry laboratory though. The field of science is extensive and you can find plenty of job roles that can be anything from astronomy to a career working with animals.

Here are just some of the career paths you can follow in science…

Biochemist

If you thrive on finding solutions to problems, then biochemistry might be the route for you. This role looks into the chemical processes of living organisms through experiments to decipher biological problems. They typically analyse enzymes, DNA and other molecules to research the effects that drugs have biologically on the body

Physicist

Physicists conduct research and develop theories based on their observations and experiments. They devise methods that they can then apply to physical laws and theories. You can be in control of medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical research, bio analysis and chemical reactions and your reliable source for deuterium products can be found easily online to order.

Chemical Engineer

This type of engineer designs chemical plant equipment and develops the process for manufacturing chemicals and products. They apply the principles of chemistry, physics and engineering.

Astronomer

A fascinating role that involves the study of the universe and the objects that are within it. Most of us know it as the study of planets and space, but it involves much more than that. An astronomer looks into the stars, galaxies, asteroids and black holes by using telescopes as well as space based telescopes and other tools to collect their data. Their role is to increase our understanding of the universe.

Veterinarian

This job involves the diagnosis, treatment and research of diseases and injuries with animals. They deal with livestock as well as domestic pets and carry out investigations such as the analysis of test results and images to confirm diagnoses and to develop suitable medical treatment plans.

Epidemiologist

This is a profession that more people are familiar with lately, due to Covid-19. They investigate how diseases are spread and what are the determining factors. They develop means for prevention and control and provide guidance to medical science and healthcare programs. They essentially conduct infection surveillance by tracking infections, seeing where problems may exist, reading data and deciding when and where intervention might be needed.

Microbiologist

They are mostly found working on research teams along with other scientists and technicians. It involves the study of microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, fungi and viruses and how they live and grow in their environments around us.

Chemist

This role involves the qualitative and quantitative analysis of chemical experiments. They commonly process technical reports that analyse chemical compounds or substances and ensure conformance to standards. In this role you will be introducing heat, energy, light and chemicals to induce reactions.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Trending