Are women’s successes being recognised today?


Several lists of India’s most influential people include Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister at the top, followed by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon Executive Chairperson, Nykaa founder Falguni Nayar, HCL Tech Chairperson Rosnhi Nadar Malhotra, SEBI Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch and Steel Authority of India Chairperson Soma Mondal within the top 100.
Each of these women have balanced and lost and traded and fought for where they are, in different measures, and fully deserve their positions and the power, authority and accolades they come with. A couple of the women recognize publicly that their presence in these positions reflects women empowerment and are proud to be the torch bearers. Others have had to make compromises along the way.
Ms. Sitharaman sacrificed completing her PhD. so that her husband could attend the London School of Economics but that didn’t hold her back for long. She fights opposition attacks on her performance every single day.
Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw wanted to be a brewmaster but was told she was high risk and asked if she could command the respect of male colleagues. That didn’t stop her from creating India’s largest listed biopharmaceutical firm.
Ms. Nayar, a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad has no stories to tell about being held back just for being a woman. She has grabbed hold of her life and steered it the way she wants to go. She is one of the lucky ones.
Ms. Malhotra has been asked by an investor if she’s reluctant or not interested in managing the company her father founded. Would this question have been asked if she was a man, I wonder.
Ms. Puri Buch is said to have ushered in the winds of change at SEBI. Prior to becoming Chief, she was the only female whole-time member of SEBI. There are no female whole-time members at SEBI since she took the helm.
Ms. Mondal, an engineer from NIT Rourkela, has never felt any problem with acceptance despite being a woman in a man’s world. Since her appointment in Jan 2021, SAIL has continued on the growth path she facilitated as Director (Commercial) since 2017.
While these exceptional women have achieved great success, they are exceptions. There are still widely held beliefs that certain jobs, at the senior most levels are not meant for women. There isn’t enough buy-in at executive levels that diversity means more than tokenism at the top. Women have been leaving organizations at senior levels because they no longer have a voice. While we in India have been able to achieve some strides in participation of women in politics, these are also mostly exceptions. Women producers and directors in the Indian film industry are woefully missing, again, with a few exceptions. At a recent musical event, Ruhaniyat, of dozens of performers over the course of a four hour performance, only one was a woman. Women writers are coming into their own but best seller lists are still dominated by men. There is a pay gap between men and women in every field, at every level.
We applaud successful women, but it’s time now to make success accessible to many more.