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Shocking! Gender bias impacts even professional women

Arthan, Rockefeller Foundation survey shows hurdles for eves

Apart from women supporting women, the report says the issue of gender equality cannot be viewed only through a female lens. Men have an integral role to play in levelling the field.

NEW DELHI, Sep 18 (BNC Network) Even in the 21st century, gender bias is a major hurdle as women continue to be at a disadvantage in the professional world, a survey report shows.

A huge 88% of the respondents believe that women are at a disadvantage in the professional world, the report Women’s Leadership in the Development Sector (WLiDS), done by Social enterprise Arthan in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation.

As many as 57% believe that women are under-represented at senior leadership levels and 75% women faced biases while networking.

Apart from women supporting women, the report says the issue of gender equality cannot be viewed only through a female lens. Men have an integral role to play in levelling the field. In an attempt to gain an understanding of gender nuances from men in the development sector, the report also identifies key points to ensure how men can be better allies.

The report assumes significance in view of the controversy surrounding Bollywood over feminism and the ongoing debate in social and electronic media.

The report https://www.arthansocialforum.org/wlids-report shares that steps that organisations can take to be gender inclusive include creating a culture of respect, ensuring gender inclusive recruitment process, reducing gendered review and reward, having progressive policies and supporting networking, mentoring and leadership training opportunities.

Anchal Kakkar, Co-founder of Arthan, said one needs to walk-the-talk for change and transition in any sector and it is true of gender parity at the workplace.

As next steps, Arthan aims to continue dialogues on gender, inclusivity and women’s leadership in the development sector, build a network of women leaders who can support each other, create a mentorship program for young women leaders. work on providing leadership capacity building support to mid-career women leaders, work on providing leadership capacity building support to women entering the workforce, work on providing leadership capacity building support to women leading grassroots organisations and continue in-depth research work on the subject of women’s leadership in the development sector.

“Not only is there a need to set up systems, policies and processes that promote gender equality at the workplace, but also to create ecosystems that enable the fair and effective implementation of these systems,” she pointed out. Much work needs to be done to increase women’s participation, and eventually, leadership in the development sector workforce, and we hope this report is a step, albeit a small one, in the right direction, Kakkad added.

The study is based on interviews conducted with over 50 development sector women leaders, a survey completed by over 100 development sector professionals, secondary data and conversations with male leaders from the development sector. It accounts for a number of unique challenges that women face at the workplace, both overt and driven by conscious and unconscious biases. The report also includes inspiring case studies based on the journeys of 50+ women leaders from the development sector.

 Deepali Khanna, Managing Director of Asia  region office -The Rockefeller Foundation, said “We need to ensure women’s empowerment is fostered through an inclusive mainstream economic agenda and social entrepreneurial solutions that offset gender-specific constraints.”

Findings from the report include the need to have strong gender policies and ensuring fair and strict implementation and internalisation of the same, buy-in from leadership to be gender sensitive, conscious efforts to hire and retain women by providing flexible hours, creches etc, offering these benefits to men and women so as to not reinforce gender roles, building self confidence in women so that they can be more assertive and so on.

“This report has shown that social enterprises hold great potential as a tool for enabling women’s empowerment. Recommendations drawn together in this report can act as a catalyst to increase the effectiveness of social enterprises as a model for supporting women’s empowerment,” Khanna added.

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