2gethr celebrated International Women’s Day with an all-women panel discussion on the ebbs and flows of a working woman. The panel consisted of leaders across industries and roles who provided their valuable insights drawn from their personal experiences throughout the years.
The discussion included different questions from the moderator, Rima Sen, that working women have to face very frequently, if not always. From work-life balance to the need for a support system, the influence of social stigmas — these women let it all out.
One of the first questions addressed to the panelists was whether it was difficult for women to make it to the top. Natasha from The Words Edge spearheaded the discussion here. She believes all one requires is determination and making the right choices. Of course, she agrees, the head start one receives has an important role to play determining the course of one’s career but it is often not limiting as is generally perceived to be. Although more and more women are now taking up careers, the numbers still need to grow. What stops most women from following their dream career is often themselves — the lack of confidence.
Lalita, Tech Lead from Last Minute, inserted here that as per statistics, most women are highly unlikely to even apply for a job until and unless she’s one hundred percent certain of actually doing the job. On the other hand, men apply for jobs when they have as little as sixty percent chances. This uncertain attitude is a reflection of various factors — social and psychological.
This brings us to one of the most important debates related to a woman’s career — is work-life balance a myth in case of women?
The conversation then steered mainly towards the support system a woman, especially if married, requires for her professional success. Sarika from Last Minute recounted an incident when a lady had advised her to come back to work after her maternity leave sans guilt and enjoy her professional career with the same dedication as before. Both Sarika and Poonam (Head of Human Resources, Last Minute) stressed the relevance of a support system.
Most of the panelists were working mothers who believed a wholesome support system was the basis of their professional lives — only a dependable support system could ensure whether working mothers could enjoy a guilt-free career. The support system could come in many forms — in-laws, husband, friends — after all, it takes a village to raise a child.
As the conversation steered towards working mothers mainly, one of the males from the audience asked when was the best time for mothers to come back from maternity leave. Kanchan from Cadre answered this saying it was a purely personal decision. No one can determine the right time other than the mother herself.
At this point, Poonam raised an important aspect in such situations which is often overlooked. She observed that husbands sometimes tend to be more emotional when it came to leaving children and joining work. However, it is almost always mothers who are expected to overlook their professional success and take a step back. When Natasha observed both parents must share equal responsibilities of rearing a child, a male audience remarked fathers do not always get paternity leaves which of course again shifts the focus to how the society is framed. In fact, the pressure a working mother puts on herself is tremendous. Suchi admitted most women gamble their health, both physical and mental, to make up for the lost time. They hardly ever take care of themselves.
The discussion was very stimulating and made some important observations that we as a society are yet to change. The discussion ended with the moderator asking everyone what they would advise themselves ten years down the line.
“Being a mother doesn’t ruin your career but makes you stronger.”
“Don’t try to be a superwoman and push yourself over the edge.”
“Do more of what you are now — determined, passionate, learning.”
“Stand for what is right.”
The advice that the panelists shared with the audience is not ideally limited to themselves but is meant for women all over to better themselves over time and be what they are meant to be, not for others but themselves alone.