The truth about women ‘opting’ out

Dr. Bitch, one of my favorite bloggers, points to this article that debunks the myth of women ‘opting’ out of the workplace. Too often, this debate ends up in a slanging match between moms who work and moms who don’t, and competition as to which is better, or how educated moms are “wasting” their brains. The other position is that its a “choice” that people make.

There is more to it than that ofcourse. In the world that we live in, it would be interesting to see how many men “make this choice”. Also ofcourse, there are issues of class involved. I am not sure my maid gets to make this choice. So, then, much of this myth is based on the assumption that many women can afford to make that choice. Most working-class families ofcourse cannot.

Nor do many women, even, ‘want’ to make that choice. As the article argues, inflexible work policies and a poor understanding of how empowering employees can help a business, often push women into leaving, or taking up less challenging, and less paying jobs.

The article says it much better than I ever could, so read on here…

(Note, while the perspective is from the Western world, a lot of it applies to the Indian market too…)



  1. I think the problem is that very often there is a mismatch in how we use the term ‘equal’. Most men would take the stand that if women expect ‘equal’ treatment, then they must be treated the same way similaas men are. But this doesn’t work, and is the source of insensitivity at the workplace. Women and men, must be treated with ‘equal consideration’, which does not mean ‘exactly the same way’. Because obviously there are serious differences, and what is required is not to try and erase these differences, but rather to respect them.

  2. Alternatively, one could look at it, as treating people as individuals, not necessarily always as part of a a particular gender. So maybe there are women who want to work in heavy machinery, and that should be fine, just as its fine for men to work in areas like nursing. (I am not saying there has to be neccesarily an “equal” representation, just that there shouldn’t be any barriers for those who want to.)

    Also, many of the differences are conditioned rather than intrinsic. (Yes, women need maternity leave, but, in many cases, where beyond the breastfeeding period, fathers want to be actively involved, paternity leave is also being offered)

  3. Kiran majumdaar’s Biocon is one of the best examples of how women can work well in a so called male-dominated area(science and technology, R &D) and can still have an efficiently managed home. Many of Biocon’s employees are young women, most of them with families and kids.Biocon provides adequate flexibility to these women in terms of working hours, child-care facilities, maternity leaves etc. No wonder the company has one of the lowest attrition rates despite the fact that its manpower has a good percentage of woman-power. May be, a woman-head is the only solution for most of the gender related issues at the work place:)!

  4. Sparsh, welcome ! Your point makes sense in the current situation we are in, the long-term however needs to be where we can all think about having both a career and a home (If thats what we want) regardless of gender. Having an efficiently managed home should not be the headache of women alone…

  5. when will biocon have operations in chennai?

  6. For some mums going out to work and being amongst fellow adults is the only way to keep a tight hold on sanity!

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