ISB Updates

Devaki Jain and Pratima Gluckman share their views on women empowerment

On December 27, 2018 the Women’s Excellence Initiative (WEI) at ISB organised an interaction with an acclaimed economist and author – Devaki Jain and a celebrated author - Pratima Gluckman.

The two speakers discussed, at length, the challenges faced by women, in India and worldwide, at a workplace. Gluckman identified the lingering issue of the glass ceiling, adding a new interpretation to it: for the women of colour, it is a solid concrete ceiling-one cannot see beyond-leading to several missed career opportunities. Nevertheless, Gluckman remains optimistic. ‘The media doesn’t often highlight hopeful stories; I believe they need to be told’, she writes in her book, ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’. She firmly believes that men, once sensitised and made aware of the difficulties women face at work, can actively support and encourage their female counterparts’ professional growth.

Jain spoke about the persistent ignorance she has observed in statistics regarding Indian women in the workforce. Her book ‘The Journey of a Southern Feminist’ brings forth the importance in every chapter of recognising the contribution of women to the family as well as to the economy.

Acknowledging that most of the workforce from the unorganised sector is illiterate, Jain expressed hope for the future generation of females from this group: the current lack of education, fortunately, does not seem to lack awareness regarding equal opportunities.

An interesting point raised by an audience member pertained to positive discrimination. He questioned how the provision of certain additional privileges to women could sustain the notion of equality between genders. Reflecting upon the matter, Jain said that such allowances might be a necessary evil until equal footing is gained on some fronts.

During the session, both Jain and Gluckman raised the crucial role of execution and implementation of strategies and policies aiming to advance women in the professional sphere. Gluckman, in her work, emphasises on the importance of having female role models in early life to encourage young girls. Jain’s approach is primarily focused on the agency of the government and socio-political authorities in the provision of fair opportunities for women.

Despite the variation in methods, Jain and Gluckman share a common belief that support for women in the workplace must be multifaceted and continuous, for a real impact to be generated. 

Article by Samriddhi Mukherjee, CLMP