|ET: As a professional woman & co-founder of a scientific start-up firm, what is the significance of the International Women’s Day to you?
SV: International women’s day is the “celebration” of achievement of success of women in today’s world in all spheres of activity - be it science, politics, arts, music or literature and also all segments and strata of society. The day was celebrated in the 1900’s to address the issues related to women such as gender discrimination and inequality. The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation.
With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. But the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally as compared to their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
I would like to see the day celebrated when a woman in her heart & soul would feel liberated & confident enough to be the active species on this earth. Till then the society’s endeavour should be to create a conducive environment for her to achieve this.
ET: Women’s empowerment is a much discussed and debated topic. What according to you is still lacking in the Indian context?
SV: Women’s fundamental role in India today is still considered as the “home-maker” with second priority to work which affects her career prospects. Unless the other gender recognises home-making as an equal responsibility, it would be very difficult for majority of the women in India to step out of home and pursue a professional career.
Although the government of India is doing everything for helping women entrepreneurs, there is a greater need today to support women in identifying professional courses suiting their needs and outlining support systems in terms of easy finance.
In the terms of employed women, a greater emphasis on safety at workplace and concessions in terms of leave to look after family priorities, need to be addressed.
ET: In India, women at workplaces have been experiencing a positive momentum in the form of women centric policies, etc., what are some of the pitfalls that organisations should be aware of?
SV: The women centric policies that organisations are pursuing are definitely encouraging and would help women in the long run to achieve their professional goals.
The characteristics of women, mainly her caring attitude, the ability to empathise with people and multitasking ability, if recognised and utilised well could help organizations help address man-management issues.
Certainly it would also help organisations if there is greater representation of women on the management board.
ET: We see many female professionals graduating with high honours from top academic institutions (be it Medical, Management, Engineering, Pharmacy, Accounting, etc.). Not all of them study further to fulfil their academic aspirations as other personal events overtake them in life. You went on to complete your Ph.D. recently. Please share with us some of the learning from your career.
SV: It is a universal law that you need extra energy to do the extra work. Similarly as a woman when you have to perform extra work you need more energy in terms of your health as well as a self-driven force required to carry out that EXTRA duty/assignment which you intend to take up.
When I look back to obtaining my Ph.D., the factors which drove the mission were my dream goal, dedication, perseverance, management and ultimately hard work. I think if you really decide to achieve something all the energy surrounding you comes to help you to achieve this.
ET: What is your advice to budding women technocrats and others who hesitate to follow their dreams?
SV: I think one should not stop at any point of time in life. Once complacency sets in and you slow down your pace of life, then life starts becoming boring. You always need to have goals/dream in life. Once you are haunted by this dream, everything falls in place and then you really can chase the dream. I think anybody - irrespective of gender - should always have a goal, one after another, and create an ability within the self to have a fire to achieve it. The different parameters for achieving goals can be self-discipline, requisite knowledge, a sound mind and body and sensitivity towards the environment around and a tremendous driving force.
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