Women Leaders Are Not Welcome!

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A retired woman officer of Haryana government mentioned that the Chief Minister openly said we do not want women officers. For decades, there was no woman District Collector in Haryana. A recently retired woman police officer reaffirmed that leadership of Delhi police system is systematically denied to women officers, a trend not uncommon in many other states. Men in uniform in security agencies ‘find it hard to take orders from women officers’, said a woman officer of Indian Navy. Similar trend is repeated in private business, and NGOs. A woman leader of a reputed NGO admitted that ‘men are resentful of women bosses’.

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These experiences were narrated in a dialogue on “Engendering Leadership in Organisations” organised by the Martha Farrell Foundation (www.marthafarrellfoundation.org) on March 10-11, 2016.

These obstacles to women’s leadership continue despite growing evidence that women leaders make powerful impact on the organisational performance and bottom-line. When women joined Kerala’s police stations, alcoholism and third degree torture inside police stations declined significantly. A recent study of businesses showed that market valuation of companies with women directors went up considerably

(http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com//Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Investors-favour-cos-with-women-board-members-14032016015007)

 Of the nearly 200,000 economic offenders in Indian business, there is no woman in the list (www.primedatabase.com).

If women’s leadership can make such critical contributions to organisational performance, it makes rational sense to have more women on the corporate Boards, and senior leadership positions. But entrenched patriarchy in Indian society continues to be perpetuated in all forms of organisations in the country.

Daily organisational performance and dignity at work places can be significantly enhanced by facilitating gender-sensitive leadership more widely. That will be one more manifestation of ‘#feminism in everyday life.’

Rajesh Tandon      March 16, 2016

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