Speak up against irrationality
In a book called Sapiens, the author remarks how all society is based on imagined hierarchies, whether its caste in India, race in America and religion elsewhere. The hierarchy of gender is also one such accidental development in the evolution of human beings where women have been considered inferior- as properties of men, having no legal identity and saddled with many restrictions on freedom to behave/dress/work the way they want to. It has taken years of revolution to change this and women have now reached a stage where they have a voice and society is being forced to address this irrational hierarchy. While the struggle to earn the right to be educated, to live freely and to be allowed to work for a living, is substantial - focussing on the challenges faced even after this struggle reveals that there is still a long way to go.
Let’s start with job interviews- I have met many women who have been asked personal questions on marriage and pregnancy, questions that a man would never face and answers to which would never hurt the chances of landing a job. It is ridiculous how common this is- I know a woman who was told she couldn’t have babies for two years if she wanted the job. Now, assume that the unpleasant questions were answered and they got hired, there is a whole set of other challenges to face- how do you work till 1am with the whole team when you are worried about getting home safely, what do you tell men who assume women get promoted based on their looks, how do you bond with a team where sexist jokes are okay since most of them are male, what do you tell someone who wants you in a sales meeting because the client might soften up because you are a woman and sign up. These are just some examples I have gathered from female colleagues and friends over the years.
Albert Camus wrote, “Freedom is nothing but the chance to be better” and that’s all that we work for. When that chance diminishes just because you are a woman, half of the human species, you have got to speak up about how irrational it is and fight to be treated as an equal, different from but equal to men.
About Anuradha Sivakumar
Anuradha has done her Masters in Sciences degree from Oxford University and works in the credit risk field in a bank.