Preethi Prabhu (47) quit her career in banking after her marriage and got busy with the family. However, when her children started going to school, she felt a void.
She says that though she wasn’t very career-minded, she missed external connections and the joy of contributing to an organisation. That was when she took to learning the French language. Four years later, today she is a French teacher at a reputed school.
Preethi explains the benefits of getting back to work: “I feel really happy, active and healthy, with regular timings and habits. I get to meet people, it’s also about looking forward to doing something in the day.”
“I used to tell myself that nothing is manageable without me at home, but now I see my kids taking pride in me working,” she adds.
Rashmi Murali (42) is a human resource professional based in Bengaluru. After dabbling with chain marketing for a few years during her break, she got hired back by the corporate she was working for. The company provided her with flexible timings and work-from-home opportunity with all the benefits. She says this is a common trend in the Human Resource arena.
Smitha Venkatesh decided to take it slow 20 years ago when she decided to get back to work. The job was not rewarding economically, but “I got the freedom to plan my day around my child,” she says. She got trained in auditing and now works as an independent management consultant.
Where are women?
“Every year so many women engineers come out, where do they go?” asks Smitha. As part of her audit work, she says she has seen unlettered women in the age group 30-50 producing zero-defect hardware products, yet the manufacturing sector has fewer women.
She says the manufacturing industry is not supporting women by allowing sufficient maternity benefits, leaves and facilities. The implementation of Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policies is a sham in most of the MSMEs, which may work against women returning to work, she feels.
In addition, “Indian women are never allowed to forget that they are women, it’s unfair. Sharing of burden and financial freedom don’t exist. Organisations exploit women and take advantage. Promotions are not given,” says Smitha.
However, it looks like the trend is slowly changing, at least in some fields. Neha Bagaria, the founder of JobsforHer, says that more and more companies including information technology (IT) companies, SMEs and start-ups are feeling the heat of the talent crunch, and are realising the potential of untapped talent of women who took breaks from careers.
Neha says that IT firms are hiring more and more women nowadays. There is a huge requirement for talents in the technology field. Many companies have started internships and upskilling programmes that range from five to six months for women wanting to get back to work.
More and more work-from-home jobs are opening up, which is yet another trend that has facilitated the hiring of more women. Along with tech jobs, there are non-tech jobs such as administration, digital marketing, content writing, human resources, graphic designing etc that are open to women.
Awareness about the need for diversity in hiring has also increased opportunities for women looking to come back to work.
Motivation, a key factor
Shruthi Rao, a writer now based in California, took a break due to motherhood. Being a blogger for some time, she started exploring a career in writing. Today she is a published author with 14 children's books who writes regularly for many publications.
Her advice: “Do what fills your cup. If you’re happy, then your child/family will be happy. I could choose this life of working from home with no regular interactions and reduced income because of my personality and my family circumstances. It doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.”
What should be the motivation for women to return to work? Preethi has this to say: “Definitely go for it if you feel you must return to work, and see the changes it brings inside you. Life opens up more, you’ll start feeling the difference physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll start taking care of yourself better and open yourself up for more opportunities. Be selfish and go for it.”