Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Emancipation of Eve

Men might tend to agree to the statement that women have it easy in life. Not only is it believed that expectations are lower here (the “paraya dhan”funda) but the widespread belief is that if a woman made it to the top, she either schemed, slept around, or somehow discarded her “duties” to her family.

Is this true? Well, from my personal life and work experience I’ve come across women from both ends of the spectrum, whether as peers or clients. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with some of the most commonsensical and erudite people at work, and mostly such kind of people were women. But I also know of quite a few who have allegedly left no stone unturned in their quest for a “successful career/life”. So it’s pretty much a neutral stance. Ditto for men.

So why this Venus-Mars thing ? Actually, I think the reason why men label women such is quite simple. As Iago warned, it’s the “the green eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on”. Jealousy.

If a bastion like management which for long has been a males-only club is stormed by the opposite sex, it’s perhaps only natural for the existing members to feel insecure. Add to it the fact that the average woman is believed to represent qualities that make her more sensitive and inclusive than the average guy. Plus she’s more likely to be sharper as she’s had to face a lot many nay-sayers in her life. Stir all of this together and you have a perfect recipe for a clash of the sexes.

The fault lies less with men than with the system that we have become slaves to. A corporate is measured by what it did last quarter and the CEO by share price growth alone. An inclusive corporate culture, is it? Does it spruce up the cash flows? The pecking order is dictated by whether you are wearing a Hermes tie or not, which special edition car you drive, the whiskies, the Cohibas you smoke etc. etc.

Society is the brain that runs this system. I am no great social reformer nor have any grudges about working towards monthly sales targets. But sometimes we should introspect about how we live our lives rather than just whether we lived them well. Petty jealousies get magnified into ego clashes in personal life. The obvious impact is on the productivity and motivation of an individual to perform on the job, notwithstanding office politics. There are no majority/minority partners here. Men and women should be treated at par in business and in personal life. Is it not true that when we play right that we play well too?

In my last term in B-school, I took a course called Gender and Leadership. Faff, scoffed my friends. Some wondered where a finance buff was headed. The increasing influx of women into corporates and the law of probability indicated that in my career I would definitely work alongside, lead or report to women. If I never learnt how to cast my prejudices aside and figure out what women really want (super-cliché here), I might perhaps fall into confrontation too. On a more personal front, given the grand scheme of things (I’m just yearning for the right post on this one ….) I might as well reconcile to the idea of a significant other (Mom, what’s cooking behind my back?). Hopefully, a more “enlightened” me will learn to keep my ego in check.

Equality, like charity, begins at home.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I should confess to loving my blog. Or rather, the act of writing it. Over a year and half I’ve been able to pour out my thoughts on a variety of issues that I think about and wished that most of my urban counterparts did too. It’s very interesting when somebody reads your blog for the first time. Akin to an expectant father waiting outside the OR, Hindi film style, (perhaps the connection is too dramatic, but you get the idea) you hope that they have a comment or idea which can take your thoughts forward.

Last evening, I found myself chatting with my dear friend R. R professes never to have had anything even remote to do with politics or read my blog, but stumbled on it through another dear friend (Bless you too, Z). R had however not made any comments but had quite a few thoughts to share.

R liked my blog of course but felt that it was too angry, too angsty. Well, considering that all around me I see basic values being jettisoned like New Year resolutions, I guess I can be pretty irritated about urban India’s steadfast refusal to have anything to with the problems of real India. We talked about this and that and said our byes.

But the thought still existed. Should not your emotions transition from despair to hope? The world has enough madmen as it is, does it need another angry blog? Cut to the point, what should I be doing from here?

I think R has a point. Let me move from shrilly pointing out problems to holding out ideas. From hand-wringing in general to cautious hand shaking. Talk less, work more. So from now on, I’ll perhaps really walk the talk.

Lest the reader start missing the fire and brimstone speeches, don’t count on me not slipping a fast punch!

Here’s to a new and (hopefully) improved me.