We all recently celebrated the Women’s Day 2017 with much gusto – acknowledging and praising women’s contribution towards the society worldwide in our ways. Facebook status updates, Instagram photos, LinkedIn posts to random Tweets—social media was flooded about the event.
However, if we look at some real-time information, we have to come to terms with the reality that, the world over women, unlike men, do not follow a linear career progression. Usually, a woman’s career follows a far more scenic route which includes taking time out for family, sabbaticals, working part-time, reduced work hours and even flexible timings – at least for a couple of years.
Indian women are no exception to the rule. From being victims of social evils like Sati to becoming the Prime Ministers to corporate honchos, women, in India have come a long way.
However, of late, it has been observed that women in India have been leaving the workforce rapidly. It might come as a surprise, but according to a joint report published by Assocham and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute, the Indian women participation in the workforce fell by 10 percent over the last decade. In past ten years, India recorded the lowest female participation in the country’s workforce.
“There is an imperative need to produce more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities to promote women empowerment thereby making them economically independent as female labour force participation (FLFP) rate in India has fallen significantly by 10 percent during the last decade”, the study reported.
How to persuade women to continue with their jobs, thereby be a part of the workforce has been a much-debated topic in the country. By now everyone knows that women join work in real numbers, but very few make it to the top. At every step and even beyond, they either leave or get pushed out. The reasons are familiar—marriage, motherhood, childcare, domestic chores, gender bias at work, security and so on.
In India, women make up 24% of the workforce, which vaunts of one the largest working populace in the world. Barely 5 percent of these make it to the top management positions, compared to a global average of 20%.
A study by Booz and Company says that if men and women in India were to be equally employed, India’s GDP could go up by 27%.
A study by Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), founded by thought and diversity leader Sylvia Ann Hewlett throws some light on this aspect of Indian working women.
The report says that 37 percent of Indian women will eventually take a break from work and the numbers are similar to US and Germany. But, the difference lies in the fact that, Indian women stay out of work for a much shorter duration – an average of 11 months compared to 2.7 years in US and 1.9 in Germany. Almost 90 percent of Indian women taking a sabbatical, want to rejoin the workforce, but only 58% can. Indian professional women also face smaller compensation penalties as compared to their counterparts in US and Germany upon rejoining the workforce. But, 72 percent of Indian women do not want to go back to their previous employer.
There are several other reasons for the lack of women participation in India’s workforce like lack of access to higher education, the dearth of employment opportunities, gender bias and even lack of flexibility.
*Source: Assocham, Forbes and Indian Express