Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A meeting in Delhi

from which I came away confused and a little sad. It wasn't so much the results of the meeting that made me react this way. It was the composition of the attendees. You see, back in 1999- when I attended my first work meeting, I was the only woman present. And my primary role there was to take minutes and hand my boss the appropriate files. But that was the construction industry, and that was the last century.

When I joined the NGO sector, I reasoned that things could only become better. And on the face of it, they were. There were more women present, but the great majority (myself included) were there to assist their bosses. They- and I- were the ones who did the implementation, but when it came to strategy, our male bosses handled it. Still, atleast 30% of the attendees were women, and I looked forward to all of us growing up and taking a greater part in strategy and planning.

Last week, I was the only woman at the meeting. Or so I thought till I looked behind me and saw a cluster of women sitting behind- away from the table despite there being plenty of vacant seats. They were research students, and had done the work that was being presented- by someone else. And it is ok, they were students, they were learning.

But why was I the only woman at the table? Where are my colleagues? I heartily support women's decision to work from home, to opt out of the rat race altogether. Mian and I too, have made a similar decision. And that is good..I strongly believe in shaping our lives to yield the highest amount of happiness possible- atleast till someone gives me concrete proof of reincarnation.

But I wonder about the role models these women- future scientists- have. The male students were at the table..why were the women not? Is this decision- the one most women of my generation made- responsible? But is it worthwhile to sacrifice my quality of life for some nebulous role-setting?

 I don't know. I wish I did.

On a different, but maybe related note, here is a picture I clicked of a toilet in Mussoorie. Stereotyping at its finest.


Banno said...

That is so sad. If the male students felt involved enough to sit at the table, why did the female students not? Why, why do women take the back seat so easily? And they tend to do that all the more when they are in a group.

kavita said...

Fangs..horns AND the third eye! Certainly stereotyping at its finest.

chicu said...

I agree, Banno..I was actually angry when I saw them sitting together in the back. What to do?

kavita said...

Its about conditioning ..needs a shift in perspective(for both men and women)..AND very early in life. Possible. Bit by bit..
Read this nice article by Dipta Bhog on Gender in school curricula and textbooks: