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Source: E-mail dt.14.7.2013

 

“Millennial Women”- An Indian Scenario

 

Dr. Sangeetha Natarajan

Vivekananda Institute of Management Studies

Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India


and

 

Ms. S. Priyadarshini

Vivekananda Institute of Management Studies

Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India

 

Abstract

 

 “Looking back is a good thing; but looking ahead is more purposeful”

               

Women carry a cultural heritage of five thousand years. The social structures and role processes which these women carry also belong to the traditional agrarian society which is two thousand five hundred years old. India is a country where simultaneously juxtaposition of the ancient and new, the traditional and the modern, the agrarian and the technological, the rural and the urban and the concept of east and the west co-exist. The living reality of these juxtapositions is experienced in all spheres of life from be it women living in puradh to women wearing a business suit working in corporate offices taking international business decisions.

 

The main aim of this paper is to span the five decades describing the role of Indian women in Management and the future opportunities and challenges. The research design is Descriptive and the study was undertaken in Coimbatore.  Data needed for the study was collected from both secondary and primary sources.

 

A sampling frame of respondents covering both men and women in equal proportion in Coimbatore between the age group of 25 and 60 were considered and grouped into three slabs on the basis of age. Slab I consists of respondents with the age group of 25 to 35, slab II between 35 and 45 years of age and slab III between 45 and 60 years of age was defined to get an unbiased response from all cadres. As the population is infinite and segregated the number of samples was limited to 300 in number. Samples are selected proportionately on quota from all cadres on the basis of convenience. Hence both Quota and Convenience sampling technique was adopted in selecting the sampling units. 

 From the responses gathered and recorded a picture of the role of Indian women in different decades; their strengths, weaknesses, threats, facilitators, inhibitors was summarised.  

 

Introduction

 

“Looking back is a good thing; but looking ahead is more purposeful”

                

Women carry a cultural heritage of five thousand years. The social structures and role processes which these women carry also belong to the traditional agrarian society which is two thousand five hundred years old. India is a country where simultaneously juxtaposition of the ancient and new, the traditional and the modern, the agrarian and the technological, the rural and the urban and the concept of east and the west co-exist. The living reality of these juxtapositions is experienced in all spheres of life from be it women living in puradh to women wearing a business suit working in corporate offices taking international business decisions.

 

The transformation of the Indian women from an enigmatic figure, covered in meters of fabric, to today’s educated, successful and accomplished professional has not been without great personal sacrifices. These are women who have broken the shackles of the past, who have walked an untraversed path, who have had the courage to make new beginnings and to pay the price for the choices they have made.

            The fact that some Indian women now occupy prominent positions and their rightful place in the corporate world bears testimony to their fortitude, patience and courage. Mainly education opened door for a lot of women who dared to dream of life within which they could live their dreams and achieve their ambitions. The journey which many women took in this country began with the freedom movement and recently crossed the threshold of the new millennium.

 

Objective & Methodology

 

The main aim of this paper is to span the five decades describing the role of Indian women in Management and the future opportunities and challenges. The research design is Descriptive, as it aims to describe and interpret the conditions that exist in the present scenario of women in India.

 

The study was undertaken in Coimbatore, one of the more affluent and industrially advanced districts of the state of Tamil Nadu in India and is known as the Manchester of South India holding the highest GDP among the districts of Tamil Nadu and highest revenue yielding district in the state.

 

Data needed for the study was collected from both secondary and primary sources. For gathering opinions, Interview schedules with open ended questions like, “What would you feel about the working atmosphere of Women? Is there any notable change in the working culture in 50’s and at present? How far the scenario is getting changed? What are the threats/ challenges that every working woman is likely to face? How far the women have to be prepared to meet these challenges? ”etc were used.     

 

A sampling frame of respondents covering both men and women in equal proportion in Coimbatore between the age group of 25 and 60 were considered and grouped into three slabs on the basis of age. Slab I consists of respondents with the age group of 25 to 35, slab II between 35 and 45 years of age and slab III between 45 and 60 years of age was defined to get an unbiased response from all cadres. As the population is infinite and segregated the number of samples was limited to 300 in number. Samples are selected proportionately on quota from all cadres on the basis of convenience. Hence both Quota and Convenience sampling technique was adopted in selecting the sampling units. 

 

From the responses gathered and recorded a picture of the role of Indian women in different decades; their strengths, weaknesses or threats was formed and duly summarised below:  

 

PHASE- I (WOMEN IN THE FIFTIES)

 

                 The women of the fifties were the first entrants in the Indian work place. They entered the workplace for different reasons. Some women chose the work option primarily due to economic considerations, monetary reasons and due to the loss of a male family member. The professional history of several women suggests that they did not rise in the hierarchy of the organisation and remained entrenched in a particular supporting role or function. The first generation working women were forgoing new roles and space for themselves.

 

PHASE-II (WOMEN IN SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES)

 

These women had grown up with the benefit of education and dreamt of a different role and life for themselves. Upon graduation, they entered organisations in significant numbers and aspired for career growth. Women in the 60’s and 70’s had aspirations to perform and be rewarded, could walk alongside men and could deliver results without seeking the privileges of feminine social roles. They were willing to stay longer hours at work. Perform and prove their capabilities. There was a sea change at the organisational level from skepticism about working women to acceptance of their rightful location and space in the corporate world.

 

PHASE-III (WOMEN IN THE EIGHTIES)

 

This was the era of emerging Professionalism. Women of the fifties, sixties and seventies accepted both social and work roles. They played the social role in the traditional mode and to some extent carried that to the organisation. A major difficulty faced by women of the eighties was the dilemma of “either or” choices. When women have moved from the location of a job orientation to a career orientation, they believed that their social roles and systems and existing relationship were to be sacrificed.

 

PHASE-IV (WOMEN IN THE NINETIES)

 

Women in the nineties have become conscious of the voice of their own identity. With economic independence, women have acquired self-esteem and have also discovered that they are able to deal with situations single-handedly. Although the world on one hand has reached an era which is progressive and forward looking, there still exist a number of people in the society who cannot cope with the thought of women stepping out of the portals of their home.  

 

PHASE V: TRANSITION TO THE NEW MILLENIUM

 

The transition to the new millennium is witnessing the woman of today creating new paradigms in terms of being fully engaged in multiple roles and deriving fulfilment from each of them. Today at the dawn of the new millennium women are at a cross road and at the threshold of a new life. They are the children of a new millennium and have the possibility to explore new frontiers within themselves and in the external environment. The future scenario of women in India is to walk an uphill path, to transcend the monolithic social structures and to catalyse change in the culture, the organisation and the social systems.

 

Facilitators…..

 

The picture depicted paves way to categories supportive and inhibitive forces, which has either facilitated or retarded women’s growth.

 

Ø  The external environment has created the universalisation of education and the government has formulated policies to encourage the girl child for higher education.

Ø  The educational institutions facilitated women to discover their competencies and achieve and succeed.

Ø  The external environment provides women the awareness and opportunities of career and occupation.

Ø  Men simultaneously compete for these opportunities. In a fair for all arenas of Job markets, women bring to the organisation their education, their achievements and competence, their determination and resilience.

Ø  The internal environment of women consists of parental home and their own home, the society, neighbourhood and community as well as the internal dynamics of the work place. In the home setting women are propelled to be educated and  pushed to take jobs to enhance the quality of life.

Ø  There is recognition of their achievements supported to excel and encouraged to be professionals.

 

Inhibitors ……

 

Another spectrum of women not gaining the Managerial position is because of,

 

Ø  Doubts, emotional vulnerabilities and fragilities become the hallmark of women.

Ø  Pilled to stay at home and condemned and accused for not playing their social roles.

Ø  Women managers are not given high risk, high profile assignment necessary for promotions, because on the way up the ladder they are cautious and avoid taking risks. Women are cautious and more likely than men to reflect rather than to act.

Ø  Women who had to be tough and even righteous about their agendas in mid- level positions find these characteristics are hard to share when they reach to the top level.

Ø  Women become defensive about challenges to their ideas or agendas and too insecure to think and interact with creative flexibility.

 

Myths applied……..

 

Major roadblocks for women who aspire to achieve and succeed in organisations are the presence of social and role of constraints imposed upon them by society, the family and women themselves. These constraints, are referred as myths fostered and sustained with preconceived ideas and unsupported evidence, which generate guilt in women.

 

1.   Women switch jobs more frequent than men.

2.   Women would not work if economic reasons did not force them into the labor market.

3.   Women fall apart in a crisis.

4.   Women are too concerned with the social aspects of their jobs and cannot be trusted with important matters.

5.   Women are more concerned than men about working conditions and they are not willing to travel extensively for the organisation.

 

Road Ahead……….

 

Women managers and women in leadership roles are today a reality. The momentum will continue and the chains will break and the shackles will fall. The glass ceiling will shatter and the women will bring a tempering of the masculine organisation structure with gentler and soft human processes. However, this does not mean that gentler compromises would be made on setting standards of excellence or achieving tough mileposts for results. What will happen is that men will take on more challenges and women will walk side by side to respond to challenges. Women are working in this multifaceted world. The organisation scenario changes like a kaleidoscope with every responsibility, accountability and multiple pulls and pushes, which women will face  and will come out with success. In the new order, women will put down roots of a family and discover the freedom of sailing in the open seas. The women will visualize a new horizon and identify directions and make tough decisions.

 

Final wordings……

 

With changing global scenario and more and more help coming from governments as well as positive vibes from various industries and firms regarding participation of women, the role of women in all levels of management is bound to rise. The future looks bright with a more interactive atmosphere in the workplace. It’s very soon to be seen that even women get par with men in the field of management as well as other fields in a global level. But all these needs a supportive and favourable environment like a few worthy points listed below:

 

Ø  A supportive family, both before and after marriage is a key factor for Indian professional women to succeed.

Ø  Determination and self- belief within oneself is required.

Ø  Support from the male counterparts.

Ø  An organisation that looks at what a person is able to bring to the organisation and is not really concerned about gender.

Ø  In the long run it is not gender but hard work and commitment that decide where a women’s career goes.