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Gender at the Workplace: Stating the Obvious

Posted by Dr. Ayesha Raj   Feb 21, 2017 4:35:36 PM

 

It is widely assumed by employers and male employees that the ‘loyalty’ of female employees towards the workplace is diluted by the multiple loyalties that women hold, mostly towards the family comprising a husband, children, sometimes ageing parents. It is also widely held that women are more likely to change jobs since they would want to ensure that time away from the family is worthwhile and lucrative. Such assumptions place women at a disadvantage at the time of promotions, placement for positions of higher management or allocation of key roles, which may require long hours of work, relocation or frequent travelling.

I would like to present the opposing point of view, and urge employers to consider that female employees are likely to value the stability of the job they hold, and prefer to rise in the ranks of the same company, rather than jump the gun for a 30% rise in salary. It is inevitable that women will get married, just as men do, and they are likely to bear children. However, these stages in their life history should not become an impediment to their career growth. Factors such as maternity benefits and flexibility offered to new mothers for instance, can go a long way in ensuring the continued employment of female employees. Organizational factors such as relationship with the boss, and the culture of the company are also stated as important factors of consideration by female employees.

As an employer, do not hesitate to hire a female employee just because she is placed in a particular station in her life- the most deterrents being marriage and childbirth. Each phase of life has its own challenges for both genders, and somehow men are never placed in a disadvantageous position by virtue of those stages in life. For instance, one could argue that the father of two children, being the sole breadwinner of his family, is more likely to change his job since he is under pressure to provide for at least four persons in his family. So perhaps he would be most likely to quit his job for a marginal increase in salary elsewhere. Logic based on gender is archaic and unacceptable for the purpose of hiring, promoting, raising salary and benefits, or letting go of an employee.

While it seems too obvious to state, it needs to be said that women are capable of achieving the balance between their home and the workplace, just as men do. The struggle to achieve work-life balance is a dilemma of the times in which we live, and it cuts across gender, age, nationality and all sociological parameters. What is required is the premise of equality from employers, and the faith as an employee that one’s talent, abilities, skill, and qualifications will be the points of consideration in making key decisions rather than gender.

Employers need to view female employees as people, not as women while considering them for promotions or determining salary. Women may decline challenging roles, just as men often do, but this should not be considered a gender-based decision. It is absurd to think that male employees are predisposed to being more committed to the workplace than female employees. Men have just as many multiple loyalties as women in the workplace hold. Employers should not doubt the ability or commitment of women to the workplace based on gender stereotypes of women’s roles in society. If all other factors are given, then let gender never be the deciding factor in selecting an employee. This is the year 2017, not 1960.

 

Topics: Team, Leadership, Hiring

Dr. Ayesha Raj

Ayesha Raj has a PhD. in Sociology from the National University of Singapore. Her expertise lies in the area of organizational sociology, ‎with special reference to work aspirations of the new Indian middle class. She has redefined the meaning of 'loyalty' in organizations from a sociological perspective. Ayesha is the author of a novel, 'Insanely Indian' and a motivational book titled 'Moments of Realization'.

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