'Subtle sexism' exists in orgn-level: Symbiosis head

Two-day national meet on feminine qualities and leadership ends

Attaining the higher position and emerging as leaders in an organisation is not an easy thing to do for women in a male dominating society, was the general opinion put forth by the three women panelists in a panel discussion on ‘Structure and agency,’ the challenges ahead of women, organised as a part of a conference here on Wednesday.

The panel discussion was held on the occasion of ‘Femcon-2014,’ a two day UGC sponsored national conference on feminine qualities and leadership, at University College. One of the panelists, Symbiosis Law School Director Prof Shashikala Gurpur said ‘subtle sexism’ continues to exist in an organisation level. Prevalence of gender bias forces women to work twice more than men to prove that they are competitive, makes them to choose between being ‘liked’ and being ‘respected’ and undergo the pressure of common belief that mothers are incompetent and uncommitted to work.

Citing an example of how women are excluded from handling powerful positions in the law field, Prof Shashikala said that the Supreme Court has so far designated only five women advocates as senior advocates, while remaining 360 and odd are male. The stigma is so much so that majority of women legal advisors are made to handle domestic affair cases, while criminal cases are mostly handled by men.

However, in her valedictory address, Prof Shashikala asserted that a woman has to remain as she is rather than imitating men, to be a good leader. “A woman need not necessarily be masculine to be a leader. Leadership has nothing to do with being feminine or masculine. What the second level leadership needs is a motherly approach, which is not necessarily biological. There should be good synergy of feminine and masculine qualities, both in men and women,” she said.

Change in syllabi

Mangalore University Centre for Women’s Studies Director Prof Kishori Nayak emphasised on the need to bring transformation in the college and university syllabi to create gender concern. “In academia, a very few per cent of women climb up to the top position of being deans and principals. As a matter of fact, the gender bias is so much prevalent that, students expect female teachers to be more sympathetic and only such teacher becomes popular among students, while there is no such criteria for male teachers. Women who are assertive are perceived as aggressive. It is nothing but ‘good girl’ versus ‘dominant girl’ phenomena,” she said.

Centre for Development Studies Director Rita Noronha suggested on exploring new possibilities through indigenous system, to bring transformation in the society. “Can we come with feminine qualities when we have become slaves of corporate culture? How many of them show the courage to raise their sons like their daughters?” she asked, stressing for a paradigm shift in the system.

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