Caring for family still a ‘penalty’ for working women

Caring for family still a 'penalty' for working women

Women today may have matched men stride for stride in their careers, but unlike the latter, they are slowed down by traditional role allocations, even in this day and age. This is borne out by a study called Viewpoint 2019 by Avtar on the theme ‘Second Careers of Women Professionals – The India Story’. According to the study quoted by, 48% of Indian women quit work midway to take care of familial commitments.

This may be seen in the backdrop of a National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report that the participation of women in the workforce fell from 36% to 24% over the past decade.

The Avtar survey studied a sample of 783 second-career women from across industries and sectors with an average work experience of 9.5 years and a career break of 4.4 years. Out of these, 45% of the women found it difficult to balance motherhood and work and hence took a break, 35% took breaks that were induced by maternity, while 16% had to put care for the elderly at home over continuing in office.

This highlights the plight of working mothers, who invariably have to juggle work and household chores, parenting, care for the elderly, and generally, keeping the house in order. What often happens in this struggle is that work and careers take the backseat. This, therefore, leads one to ask: why should motherhood and family commitments be a sort of ‘penalty’ on working women?

What is worse, second career women often lack support at home. According to the Avtar report, 23% of the second career women get insufficient support from their families, 59% lack a strong network and 36% are faced with skill gaps.

The report also finds that almost 69% of the respondents upskilled themselves during the break and almost 66% have had mentoring. Close to 69% anticipate pay cuts on re-entering their careers. This clearly shows the difficulties faced by career women and the injustice done to them by society fixing certain roles for them.

Founder-President of AVTAR Group Saundarya Rajesh said that the country requires more companies across segments and geographies to implement women-friendly policies. This will not only help these companies improve their overall performance, but also improve India’s position on the global women workforce map, she said.

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