10 July 2007


Coincidentally, and somewhat in line with my previous post on the different realities men and women experienced in their careers, the Sunday Times of India, in their Times Life! supplement last Sunday, released a story on successful working women in India and their perspectives on their work lives. The story, ‘Guilt-edged lives’, showcased several successful Indian businesswomen voicing, unanimously, the fact that a career means a balance between work, family and home.

The Times Life! story, which strangely does not credit its author(s) but acknowledges the Times News Network, quotes Sulajja Firodia Motwani, MD of Kinetic Engineering: “Being a working woman is a constant struggle, especially when it comes to kids. Even if you try and balance your work with your family and kids, there’s still an emotional pull.” The story centres on the fact that these successful businesswomen experience a feeling of guilt in having to manage work and family/home simultaneously, and are bold enough to acknowledge it publicly.

However, the story does not clearly state if the feeling of guilt is directed towards their work or their family/home, or both. Meaning, if they feel guilty for not being able to devote themselves 100 percent – and do justice – either to their work or to their family/home, or both. Judging the tone of the story, I’d say the guilt is directed towards their family/home. Which could mean that (and forgive me for generalising here) the woman is less guilty about not being able to devote 100 percent to her work/career.

To be fair, the story does go on to say (and I quote here from the story):

“At times the woman is torn between her professional aspirations and her familial roles. The solution seldom lies in choosing one over the other because for a woman it is important that she achieve success on both the home and work fronts, and not one at the expense of the other. Easily said, but takes some doing.”

Although all the women interviewed in the story mentioned their guilt, concern for and devotion to their children, interestingly, not a single woman mentioned her guilt, concern for and her devotion to her husband – leave alone her parents or her parents-in-law, which is normally how an Indian family is structured. I wonder if this is what the new and emerging Indian woman is all about. Perhaps, there’s a story in this as well.

And, what about the different realities (that men and women experienced in their careers) which I had talked about in my previous post? Well, the Times Life! story does touch upon that. It concludes with a quote from television host and VJ Mini Mathur: “A man simply cannot multitask the way we women can. If he’s making a film, he is only concentrating on that task, while I am expected to juggle several roles at once, and come up ace in each.”

[Citation: ‘Guilt-edged lives’, Times Life!, Sunday Times of India, Sunday, July 8, 2007]

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