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#ProgressiveWoman: It's time not to get shortchanged by rigid mindsets

Does Society place too heavy a burden on women achievers? Are the expectations of women unrealistic and thus untenable? All these questions and more were tackled in our Twitter Panel yesterday (March 8, 2019) on Contributions of a #ProgressiveWoman in Society. Moderated by Preeti Nayyar, VP - India & South Asia, Universal Music, the panellists included.

  • Deepa Sridhar, Director - Corporate Communications & CNN Marketing, Turner
  • Divya Dixit, Sr. VP & Head of Marketing, ALTBalaji
  • Megha Tata, Managing Director – South Asia, Discovery Communications India
  • Varsha Ojha, National Head - Brand, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Radio City

Commencing the discussions, Megha Tata remarked, “Google doesn’t even define Progressive men actually! Frankly, it’s not for Google to decide if women are progressive or not... women should!”

Divya Dixit added here, “I think being progressive is a state of mind; for example, my mother-in-law, though from small town, is an extremely forward-thinking woman. It's an individual trait that is difficult to define by age, demographics or socio-economic status.” Agreeing with her, Preeti Nayyar said that she considered her mother to be the most progressive woman. Tata chipped in, "I think my cook, who is from UP, is progressive! She is a single, self-made mother, who has brought up two kids. Being progressive is a state of mind."

On a lighter note, Deepa Sridhar quipped, "Google probably will need some time to get #progressive."

Financial independence and being progressive

Tata felt that it was not entirely true that only a financially independent woman was pregressive, even homemakers could be progressive. However, financial independence is of utmost importance. When asked by Nayyar how to balance the two, Tata replied, "I propagate what I call 'Megha’s 5 Ps'."

Agreeing with Dixit, Tata said that a supportive partner/ family is an important ingredient for women to go out and be successful. "Work-life balance can happily happen if the equation at home is a balanced one," she pointed out.

Sridhar, however, chose to disagree with this and said, "If we all believe that being #progressive is a state of mind than anything else, then nothing really stops you. #ProgressiveWomen go for it irrespective of whether or not she gets the support." "There are women we know of who  are breaking several socio-economic barriers to lead the life they want to," she added.

According to Ojha, "Financial independence is the path to emancipation, it makes women more confident about themselves, which in turn becomes the catalyst for them to strive harder and influence change." 

Coping with expectations from a woman at home

Megha Tata remarked that it depended on how one managed these expectations. Citing her own example, she said, "For example, it is expected that women should cook, but I can’t cook, however I am really good in cooking stories! Be true to yourself, that's is essence of a #Progressivewoman." 

Deepa Sridhar rued the fact that expectations of what a woman needs to do at home does depend on socio-economic conditions and the social fabric. When Preeti Nayyar asked whether it held true for both urban and rural women, Sridhar replied, "I think women need to and should worry about being #progressive. Women shape the society nurturers. It is our responsibility to make sure that we impart the knowledge of being progressive to our children this #WomensDay."

Divya Dixit mulled over how one should describe progressive or regressive and remarked, "I am religious, I like to cook for my family, step out with my friends and my job. It's the freedom that I have to choose what I want to do and that's what being progressive is, according to me."

Data says that despite same qualification, men get 30% more pay than women. Is this hurting the reality of being a progressive woman?

Kalpana Ravi, Here it’s not whether we are progressive or empowered the problem is we Women don’t ask what our worth is and we get short changed even though we are better than our counterpart.

Megha Tata: Women should #askformore but let me caution. It shouldn’t be just because she is a woman! #equalpay should be gender agnostic. There is a skew of men getting paid more than women. While it’s changing slowly the disparity does exist and its industry agnostic. Here I think it’s men who need to be progressive to make the shift happen! Change has to come in the minds of men in power! Besides pay/benefits is not as volatile like stock markets..the issue here is not generic but specific with ref to.

Deepa Sridhar: Oh yes it totally does. #ProgressiveWoman are also self aware and knowledgeable, hence need, equal pay.

Varsha Ojha: As progressive women of today we need to stop being tentative and start negotiating more by not treating our income as secondary income.

So are we as women not able to make our voice be heard? Also, do women in senior positions feel the pressure to be the part of 'Bro Culture' to feel accepted?

Deepa Sridhar: I never have and wouldn’t ever see myself part of the ‘bro culture’, I would rather promote the sister tribe.

Megha Tata: I think our voices are much louder and clearer now than they ever were! And I definitely don’t think we need to be part of the “bro culture”. Women need to decide for themselves who and what they stand for!

Preeti Nayyar: It depends on us an also on the leadership as to how acceptance should be gender neutral!

Divya Dixit: I think I get heard, however at some places I have felt the culture of male dominance dint allow me to speak up. but important is to fight back and be persuasive.

Deepa Sridhar: I wouldn’t say that, I think we can and are making our voice heard. The corporate sector has ensured there are enough opportunities for that. It also depends a lot on how we use those opportunities.

Varsha Ojha: Women posses all of those qualities imperative in a leader - good communication skill, empathy, ethics and effective problem-solving capabilities. We are breaking stereotypes and barriers each day and so we are not pressurised to be a part of the “Bro Culture”#ProgressiveWoman

Indira Nooyi Says “ women can’t Have it all” Are women really torned between Work & Family ? Why is there a guilt or burden in Career choices?

Megha Tata: Some women call it compromise, I prefer to call it prioritise! So yes, we can’t have it all and a large part is due to lack of support from men at home. Like @sherylsandberg says 'A world where half our homes are run by men and half our institutions are run by women, would be a better world!'

Divya Dixit: There is a bit of guilt. when i cant attend my childs sports day because of an important meeting but thats where the supportive spouse comes in the play. women can have it all, i firmly believe and naysayers are just pulling u down.

Varsha Ojha: Women firstly have to believe in their minds, that they can have both a successful career and  happy family. It should never be either/Or between FAMILY and career.

My last question to my panel ! On international Women’s Day, how do we redefine women’s role in economic policy making ?

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