Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gender Discrimination

The title suggests yet another story in the countless instances of how women are treated differently and unfairly. But it is not. It is about how sometimes men are in a spot which does not do justice to them or to their families.

It all began today evening or rather night around 9 p.m which is around the time hubby darling flies back to our nest. He was especially drained tonight and told me he had a tough evening. It is the time of the year when appraisals are done and he is responsible for 30 appraisals. When the appraisals are made public the employee concerned are free to agree or disagree with the evaluation. Out of 30, 3 disagreed. One was a genuine case of technical glitch. That leaves two out of which one is and has been a problem case. It is the case of a woman whom we shall call Madam X.

Madam X has been having problems with her appraisals since last year and maybe even before, who knows. She according to my husband has 9 years plus experience and her work is not in accordance to her years in the industry. In an industry where working hours are anywhere from 12 - 14 hours and sometimes more. Working on weekends is also not unusual. The offshore-on site model leaves you with hardly any personal time since after work (US hours in this scenario) , these guys are on the phone after 10pm talking to India office. In such a setting Madam X works for 6 hours. She does not take any extra responsibility considering her experience. She is also not a team player and teams under her have complained and do not want her as an appraiser. Even the 6 hours she puts in are lacking in the effort and excellence expected from her.

She also has a history of turning any discussion about her appraisal nasty. This time when she realized her appraisal was not going to be changed (for all the right reasons), she turned hysterical. She started crying much to my husband and his boss's horror. She went ballistic and even cursed them and their families (shudder shudder). She has a child and is expecting her second one. She went to the extent of saying that they, as in her appraisers, were trying to kill two people: her and her unborn child. She talked about her family and how difficult it is for her to manage home and work. She left the office threatening one and all of dire consequences. More drama ensued even after she left but I will give it a skip.

As a woman I understand how difficult it must be for her to manage home, be a mother and be pregnant too. But as a wife and a mother and someone who is almost single handedly raising children considering hubby's working hours, I am angry. As a person with a professional degree who could have had a promising career but chose to give it all up, I feel angry. As a wife who misses her husband, who works long hours not because he is a workaholic but it is the demand of his industry and such are the times, I am angry. As a mother of children who get to interact with their father for just 1 hours or a little more on weekdays, I am angry. As my husband's best friend who sees the amount of hard work, both mental and physical, my best friend , my husband puts in, I am angry.

As a woman I understand and support women friendly work policies. I understand and demand the need of maternity leaves , day cares etc. And anything else that is needed for a conducive work environment for women. But there is a limit to everything. How can we sing the song of equality when these women want to walk off with equal wages, perks etc. while putting in less hours and even lesser quality of work. Working while pregnant or as mothers to young children is a choice they make. Do I need to bear their burden? Should my husband and others like him give up what they deserve because a woman struggles between her work and home. Should women have it easy because they are women and mothers and juggling work and children requires superhuman efforts?

It is a choice she makes and she should learn to live with it. Should she not understand that you cannot get everything. If being a mother and wife are also important it may come at a cost. It could mean lesser pay, fewer promotions. Working by the industry standards could mean coming up short as a mother, wife , homemaker. I am not here to judge the choices. But I do feel and strongly so, that it is high time for women like Madam X to take the bitter pill and accept facts. I as a woman , mother, wife and someone with a sense of justice think , this is taking the concept of equality in a different and totally wrong direction. Fairness is something at stake here.

P.S Objectivity is possibly not a USP of this post since it affects me personally. Would love to hear your opinion on this.


Renu said...

It is a choice she makes and she should learn to live with it. Should she not understand that you cannot get everything.-- I agree. and I always say if you want to be considered equal, stop taking privileges and reservations in life.
Women like this bring shame to all the female gender.

Smitha said...

Chrysalis, I totally agree with everything you have said here. Mainly because I have been on both side of the situation. When I was working - before I had my daughter, I have worked even 48 hrs round the clock when needed, and with the onsite-offshore scenario that you mentioned - this is quite routine. And it used to irritate me so much when I see women coming to work at 11 and leaving at 5 - basically taking minimal responsibility and expecting everybody else to adjust!
When I went back to work after having my daughter - I was almost in that situation.. I had to leave at 5:00 -though I would come in earlier and then would go home and log in after 7:00 every evening.. but still it is a problem to the rest of the team - esp as they would prefer to finish their work and go back as soon as possible - so my working hours would actually be a bottleneck - in certain cases.. So finally after 6 months of working like this and convinced that I was really not able to give 100% anywhere - I decided to take a sabbatical and have since then quit . To be honest I am very happy I took that decision. At least I don't feel torn from all side..

Again there are some women who are 'habitual offenders' - who donot think that there is anything wrong with this.. And I think they are the ones who really bring down the image of women in the workplace.

Having said that - I also think that there is a considerable portion of men in the workplace - who despite having no such compulsions/responsibilities, may stay at work for 16 + hours and yet be far less productive - but they don't get noticed as much as a woman who leaves work at 5...

Sorry - I almost wrote a post here - but this was something I feel very strongly about...

Chrysalis said...

Renu: I agree.

Smitha: Thanks for your comments . It was lovely to hear from you since you have been on both the sides. You gave a great insight. ANd yes I agree with you anyone , even men who are off the radar but unproductive despite long hours pull down the team effort.

manju said...

Chrysalis, I agree with yout views.

Women used to say that they wanted equal pay for equal work.

I have heard many times from male relatives working in the IT sector that now women want equal pay for less work.

I know that women have to make a tough choice- whether to work or not-or maybe work in a less demanding job. But unfortunately that's the way it is.

Chrysalis said...


Ya tough call for women. Life in fact has become more complicated and its all our doing.

Anrosh said...

At work madam x is what her title expects her to be, if she cannot do justice madam x is not professional.

if she was professional she would make the appropriate choices, do time management and prioritise and do whatever is needed.

Compensating her for making the wrong choices is encouraging low work standards --
Being hysterical at work - only adds oil to the fire

Chrysalis said...

Anrosh: Exactly!

TheGirlNextDoor said...

That Madam X is unprofessional is probably true and as Smita rightly points out, there are quite a few men who will will be unproductive but stay for long hours and get away with inefficiency. One bane of the Indian IT industry is that "hours in the office" generally translate into "hard-working" which is very untrue.
My experience has also been like Smita's where I quit after trying to juggle both ends after having my daughter. I was lucky to be able to make this choice. A lot of women aren't. Madam X is probably one of those. Having said that, does that mean women should get away with using that as an excuse to shirk work/responsibility? No they should not.
As you rightly said your husband can work 12 hours becuase he know you are there to take care of the children and the house. How many women, who want to have careers, have that option? And that is where gender bias comes in...