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Two years back, in one conference on Occupational Safety, I met a few delegates from reputed organizations. During my conversation with them I happened to mention how I was rejected for few job openings as they were only looking for male candidates. This made one gentleman upset and he told me that I was wrong because all organizations are now working on gender equality and all are hiring women for all positions. He told me that in his own organization plenty of women are working. I was surprised because you don’t hear that everyday about manufacturing sector. I asked him what the ratio was. He didn’t tell me the ratio but he kept on bragging. This only increased my curiosity. I asked him again if he could tell what the percentage of women employees was in his organization. Was that 50 %? He started thinking and kept quiet for a few seconds. His colleague came forward to help him and whispered to him, “Sir I think it is 8-9%”.

Having less than 10% of female employees is a matter of pride for him. I wonder how he will react when this number goes up to 40% in few decades. I’m sure he will get used to it and so will everyone else. And if they don’t, it will be hard for them to see equal participation of women in all important business meetings. But it is a long journey for us before that actually happens. As of now, people are getting adjusted to the fact that women are joining all sorts of engineering sectors. Many times I have been told by the people that they were seeing a woman working in Safety field for the first time. I say, “You’re welcome. Now next one will not take you by surprise.”

I do not mind surprising people but I do mind when someone addresses me as ‘Sir’ in his email or in a message on LinkedIn while inquiring about job vacancy. Of course, there will be all men on LinkedIn. Why a lady will have a professional LinkedIn profile? There also have been times when people changed my name from ‘Kratika’ to ‘Kartik’, mainly while replying to my emails. But it is fine as long as they don’t do it on some important record or certificate.

Recently I was in search of job again. I came across many job vacancies but I didn’t qualify for 80% of them as they didn’t want female candidates for those positions. By one organization I was told that they didn’t want to hire a female candidate as they want someone who can stay up late in night in office for work. They already assumed that the candidate they would hire wouldn’t be able to finish his work during office hours. Well, I would so much want them to learn about Gender Equality, but before this I want them to learn about Human Rights. Human’s right of going back home from office after 9 hours of hard work, regardless of gender.

Women should be given job opportunities without the second thought and it should be well understood that career means more to working women than it means to men because unlike men they always have an option to quit their jobs without any judgement from the society, but they don’t! Instead, they work harder, because they feel pressure to prove certain things. Things like- They are not fragile, they are as strong as any other gender, they can be rough and tough, they can go on long journeys whenever work demands, they can work with numbers, they can do everything else beyond documentation. They are fighting hard to break stereotypical image of a women. I’m also one of them. I am her. I am SHE, making my way through S-H-E.

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