Women of society are bringing glory to the nation. Still, it is striking to see how professional women have been marginalized in some vocations, ignoring the benefits of gender diversity. Do social roles determine who we are and what we can achieve in life? Could it be that external factors limit our ability to live our lives the way we want to? We are looking to answer these questions and shed light on some of the hurdles professional women may come across.
Gender Equality and Professionalism
‘For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts’– cited from a former president’s second inaugural speech. The world is still contemplating these words quite a few years later.
This question of equal pay for all has been a debatable issue for some… And an eye-opener for many in the past few years. Many countries have been democratized, and they granted equal right to vote to everyone, irrespective of their gender. Still, somehow, the same rights are not given to everyone at the workplace. And nothing can be more disappointing for the countries than failing to recognise the effort of all members of the society equally.
In a report by CNN, US soccer claimed that it would not pay women soccer players equally because being a male player requires more ‘skill and responsibility’. Although American women have had far more success in football than their counterparts, the team has been subjected to this ‘sexist stereotype’. Unsurprisingly, professional women could relate to this, no matter what job they have got.
This example is just one situation where professional women have been subjected to gender discrimination. Also, people may have questioned them about their ability to perform, instead of benefiting from promoting gender diversity. However, this is not the first time that this has happened. Reportedly, far more troubling cases of discrimination, violence against women has happened around the world during the past few years. In contrast, the world remains quiet about these atrocities.
The hurdles of professional women
When we talk about professional women, we usually don’t look at what goes into achieving that status. Competition for these women is not limited to the test exams and interviews. It goes far beyond those lines: fighting social stigma, societal boundaries, family pressure, discrimination, and the stress of being a woman.
Is This a Man’s World?
Success is a complex word, apparently biased towards the male gender in most cases. We could all name men being famous and popular the world over. But can you, as easily, think of professional women being praised for their achievements on such a large scale? For one, have you heard of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf? Although she left a mixed legacy behind, she has undeniably helped to maintain peace in Liberia. She also promoted the improvement of livelihoods and safeguarding of women of her country. A victim of domestic violence, an international bank executive, and a Nobel prize winner.
In some cultures, people consider a woman’s prestige only when she keeps quiet and nods at every decision that the man makes. When she raises her voice against injustice and tries to put up against the dominating male the perception changes. When she voices her powerful opinion, she becomes an arrogant, selfish, and vindictive woman.
Nevertheless, although this has been a challenge for women, you will find them protecting their voice and rising to the trials that it brings. Undoubtedly, this is what makes them gain respect, love, and admiration at a much broader level. Professional women in such cultures may make efforts to overcome patriarchy, societal boundaries and the limitations placed on their talents. They will step up as powerful, strong women who are ready to take on the world. Women has proved this strength on many occasions.
Professional Women and Responsibility
Professional women have always been an inspiration to grow, thrive and achieve. Think of India’s Lakshmibai, Pakistan’s Malala, America’s Michelle Obama or Finland’s Sanna Marin.
The extra load that the boss wants to be done by the end of the night… The child whose homework has to be submitted the next morning… And a husband who is tired after a day’s work… These challenges rarely make a woman stumble. And before you know, she’s done with her work because that’s how they are made to function.
Photo by Philip Toledano
Indra Nooyi – Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
Indra Nooyi, an Indian American Business executive and former CEO of PepsiCo, has continuously ranked amongst the top 100 most powerful women. Nevertheless, in an interview, she told of an incident. It occurred with her mother after she had been declared the President of the Board of Directors. Her mother said that the moment she enters the house, she is a wife, a mother, and a daughter-in-law and that she should leave the crown in the garage.
This incident brings out one of the biggest challenges that professional women face: no matter what women’s role ultimately comes down to managing the household.
What Does it Take to be a Professional Woman?
A woman’s sacrifice often goes unnoticed by society. In fact, a woman’s whole life may revolve around sacrifices. Furthermore, after a certain point, the difference between happiness, choice and sacrifice becomes a blurred line, until only sacrifice remains.
Leaving the home that she grew up in to create a new nest with someone else… Giving up on dreams just because the family disapproved… Letting go of a job opportunity because it demanded time and she had to be home… Resigning her job because she has a child at home to look after. Sacrifices that no one acknowledges and which may go overlooked.
Living the Life of Professional Women
We have talked about successful, professional women and their role in society. Many others have achieved similar heights or are capable of achieving something outstanding with some support and means.
Trying to work as an independent person, supporting the family or just for pursuing a passion has never been easy. The struggle is real for every woman who is trying to create an identity in the world… For women who are set to bring about a change in this society and make it a better place for all women. For example, women may not get a job just because it is presumed that they would not be able to invest themselves entirely in their work. This discriminating, stereotypical belief may pose challenges to most professional women, irrespective of their field of expertise.
Despite these shortcomings, you will find professional women who work 18 hours a day, professional women who did not marry to pursue their career. The fight against biases and discrimination is endless; although we have come a long way in this race of equal rights, we still have a long way to go.
At the same time, you must remember: we all are the makers of our own faith. Therefore, we must take an active role in deciding how our life unfolds. It’s our choice what we allow and what we decline to be part of our journey. We must recognise that the way we choose to live our lives affects the lives of the generations after us. So, finding our inner strength and voice is not only a potential but a far-reaching RESPONSIBILITY.
Women are one of the main pillars of society and its existence. It is time that you wake up to your dreams, overcome your fear and defeat the demons that are trying to hold you back from achieving the heights of success.
The moment you give up your fears, the moment you embrace your womanhood in all its glory, you give way to a life that you have always dreamt of. Remember, the moment you decide to step up to what you believe in, you will find help from all walks of life. There is always help and support out there. It may just help you find an easier way out of these situations with the right tools and mechanisms.
The moment you decide to help yourself, you will find strength and power to grow and motivation to live the life you have always wanted. You are not alone in this battle; there are millions of others on this planet who are going through the same transformation. Help, support, and justice are just a few courageous steps away.
Speak, talk, let others know of how strong you are, and maybe your story can become someone else’s inspiration. If we all unite in this battle of rights, we can make this world a better place for the next generations. Remember, it is our responsibility to live a life that is based on our own decisions and preferences as empowered, strong, professional women, and not to fall the victim of society.