The Usual Multifold Challenge for Women

The Usual Multifold Challenge for Women

The Usual Multifold Challenge for Women

Recently we celebrated the International Women Engineering Day on 23 June. The purpose of this day is to bring awareness and recognition to the outstanding contributions of women engineers and the challenges they have faced. Women started taking roles in the industry to replace when the men got involved in the military post 1919. Societies like Women’s Engineering Society and Society for Women Engineers have been in place with objectives like:
  • supporting women engineers in general
  • encouraging women to study engineering and take up engineering careers
  • promoting corporate gender diversity
  • having a collective voice of women engineers
These objectives clearly delineate a hidden struggle for existence. When we generally talk of women in the engineering industry, we are aware that we are addressing the minority.
The women in the engineering industry are clearly depicted in the graph above. In addition to a diminished presence, what intensifies this negative excluding spiral are the sad stats below:

When COVID hit, it was clearly a multifold challenge for the female engineers. Apart from the gender roles which they are assigned, by virtue of their sex, they had to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic: travelling, staying away from family, proximity to virus prone sites and surely the comparatively less wages than their male colleagues.

The challenges to their resilience begin with their mere presence in the industry. Our dedicated work with the industry shows less participation of women employees in wellness programs. Almost negligible no. of women turning up for individual counselling sessions, speaks a lot about their inclination away from self care, while the amount of challenges they seem to be facing is ever increasing. This in the long run surely would pose a threat to not just their existence in the industry but also the ongoing motivation to work, tenure of service, attrition rate, etc.

Ignorance Blinds Us

The lack of gender diversity in the field is not merely a matter of moral concern but also of qualitative struggles. The data brings forth the lack of awareness about the pros of a gender diverse workforce. This issue remains an issue mostly because of the ‘ego’ content associated with it. It is felt that the issue gets highlighted out of insecure space and also if addressed would satiate the ‘moral quotient’ and the ‘ego’ on the go. However, from a consulting lens, these inclined numbers have an adverse impact on organisational health.
Lack of diversity is a loud conveyer of organisational rigidity. Despite being aware of numerous pros of having a diverse workforce, there can be limited reasons for resisting change.
Our work with the industry has shown similar conclusions. The employees who came for individual sessions (all of them were males), majorly expressed concerns like:
  • Lack of openness to change
  • Rigidity of approach
  • Lack of empathetic understanding at workplace
  • Feeling unheard at workspace
Diversity brings with itself several ideas of freedom. It holds the ground for openness to change, empathetic approach, minimises stagnation and linearity of approach. All this if we clearly see is required for a better organisational health as well.
A victim narrative sounds like a rant after a while and it shuts down too. However the call for diversity and inclusion is one which, thanks to the amazing research in the present arena, is not operating as a cry for help but from an empowered space, where now we are aware of its strengths. Acknowledgement of this concern, to its true depths can surely unlock the organisational potential from its very core!

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