Career aspirations of women- can they make it big?
A very interesting article was doing the rounds of a site recently. It is about choosing a life partner wisely as a woman’s career depends on it. The author goes on about explaining how she was offended at first hearing about this quote as the feminist in her thought – why depend on a man. But as she delved deeper into facts she realized that a spouse plays a major role in his wife’s career. Some of the relevant questions she raised are- Is he willing to let you work after marriage? Is he ready to share the house work? Will he relocate for you if you find a better opportunity?
The 3rd point is something that caught my attention probably because it’s a situation I am in at the moment. I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and have been working with an MNC for the past 7 years. This is my first job post qualification and the reason for sticking around so long is that I have limited opportunities in the city where I have been living since the last 10 years and moving out for a job change is a big decision. I could have taken that decision without much ado when I was single. I have been born and brought up in Bombay and it’s a city which always lures me. By a turn of events I moved to Bangalore and continued living here due to my job. So moving out of Bangalore was never a constraint.
But after marriage as my husband has his own business which is based out of Bangalore (Bangalore being the IT hub) I knew the move to a different city would be all the more difficult. A few years down the line I started feeling a strong urge to move for career progression but the fact that it is practically impossible for my husband to move made me resign to the fact that I am stuck in this city and I stay put. Then I became a Mom and decided to let things be as I wanted to focus on the baby. I got back to work after 4.5 months resolving that I would take things slowly on the career front for a while so that I can spend more time with my child. But after a few months, the ghosts hidden under the duvet came back. It was no longer a matter I could ignore. I couldn’t keep complaining about stuff not working out or consoling myself that “One does not get everything in life, there would be plus and minus, it’s ok to be mediocre sometimes”. I realized this is not making any sense and a switch is what I badly needed but then again the question of my husband’s inability to move acted as a deterrent. Finally when things seemed to be going out of hand I decided I must at least take the first step of going and assessing my worth out there. I discussed this matter with my husband and family, they were aware of my situation and they all agreed that I take this first step.
It was a challenge by itself facing interviews after 7 years. I have very good credentials in terms of my academics- CA rank holder, University level merit list holder and gold medalist, 7 years in a niche profile in a very well reputed company. But the thought of facing interviews after all these years was so scary. Somewhere I had lost that confidence that I had when I walked in for my first interview years ago. I prepared well as I always do and things went on extremely well. I was offered the job which was in a different city. My husband and I spoke at length and we decided it was in my best interests to take up the job. It was a very good opportunity with a new set up and I could leverage my experience here. I decided to shift with my Mom and daughter and he would keep shuttling between the 2 cities – he had that flexibility as he ran a business but he couldn’t move completely at this point.
It was not an easy decision- living apart after 4 years of being together. But we both knew at this point this move was essential and if delayed further, would make things all the more difficult. Our daughter is still young just 1.5 years old but as she grows up and starts schooling, moving cities would just get harder.
Though as a husband wife we had taken a well thought and conscious decision and I moved ahead, the shocker was people’s reaction when I revealed about the move. Almost in the same breath came the next question- but what about your husband?
Yes he will come too, but will shuttle between the 2 cities for now. This would go on for some time.
Then why are you moving? Why don’t you stick on to your job or look for a move in Bangalore?
Why would make such a move when your husband is here?
I wonder if this move was initiated by my husband, would the questions be as intense and probing? For its perfectly fine for a man to look for a career move which might require him to relocate. In fact it would be looked upon with an air of appreciation- he is career minded, ambitious. People would take it for granted that his wife and kids will move with him or they may stay put- but that is perfectly fine- career is also important right.
When it comes to a woman though, there is often this question looming over everyone’s head.
Is the couple facing issues?
Marital discord? Is that why they decided to part ways but don’t want people to know?
If not, then she is for sure a selfish career minded woman. Which married woman would think of moving away from her hubby? She places her career over her family? What’s the use of money or position if your family is not with you?
One of my close friend’s husband asked her this question about me when he got to know about my move- “Why is she going when she knows his business is here? What’s the meaning of marriage then? First of all I am not going for money. I wouldn’t say it’s completely unimportant and I would settle for a pay that lesser than what I deserve but the main reason form move was career growth which I felt had come to a standstill in my current organization. Given the sector I work is niche and I couldn’t see suitable opportunities in my current city, it necessitated a move. This does not mean I do not value my family or my marriage ceases to exist or we have issues. We are very much together and in love- arguments do happen and we all know that life changes after a baby- these are phases every relationship goes through. So why the hue and cry bcos it’s a woman who made the move?
I know of a colleague who works with me- she and her husband live in different cities due to their jobs- they fly down frequently to spend time together, visit family and take vacations. Does this mean their relationship has issues or just because they do not live together, we presume something is amiss?
To truly empower women and give them that hand to grow at the workplace, its important that we create an environment conducive to them. This is not just at the workplace but also with regard to a career move, job switch which they may think about but hesitate and take a step back because of lack of family support or fear of what people think. When this move is perfectly acceptable in fact commendable for a man, then why not for a woman? Why do we hear those voices at the back of our mind telling us “career minded woman, what about her family”? Don’t you think this is something she would have thought about carefully or you just felt she had a whim and decided to jump in? The next time a woman tells you she is moving cities or country for her career, surprised as you may be just smile and tell her you are happy for her, happy that she thought of herself for once, her dreams and aspirations. Have you heard this saying- it always resonates with me” Apart from your Mom there is only one person who will think of your career and that is YOU”.
It’s not an easy one, moving out if your comfort zone, shaking off the dust and complacency, taking up new challenges, a new environment and people. The fear of unknown and what if I don’t get it right always looms over the head. Additionally this also presents challenges on the personal front. I am yet to see what’s in store for me but I take each step with optimism and look forward to an enriching and rewarding future. I am conscious of the fact that this means spending lesser time with my spouse and child as moving to a new job and putting in that extra effort to prove myself at work and carve out my place but it’s something that I am willing to do as moving forward and having a sense of accomplishment and mental satisfaction in what I do is imperative, this is what I believe.
So for all those gossip mongers, yes we are very much together (to the disappointment of those who want to say- I told you so this marriage seems dicey, you both are so different). And guess what, just like a man thinks of his career progression, so does a woman. So the next time you come across such a situation, stop yourself from judging and hold back your tongue before you blurt out those insensitive comments, for your know nothing of her situation.
And woman who is on the threshold of – should I shouldn’t I make the move? Have been there and as a comrade all I can say is – think of your family of course but also ask yourself these pertinent questions-
Am I working just for time pass?
Is my only goal to earn some money so that I can help my husband but nothing beyond that?
Do I work because it gives me a sense of independence, self-fulfillment?
Do I feel valued at my workplace?
Are people taking me for granted just because I am a working mom and they feel I will stay put and would not want a big change?
Am I ready to take charge of my career and willing to walk that extra mile to make it work for me?
Once you honestly answer these, I am certain you shall take the right decision.