“It is better to be alone than in the wrong company. Tell me who your best friends are and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl but if you associate with eagles you will learn how to soar to great heights.” -Anonymous
This encapsulates my journey in the professional world. From the time I entered into this world, exceptional women flanked me, from my mother to my grandmother and right to my aunts on my mother’s side. There was no dearth for leadership, breaking barriers and challenging pre-existing social norms in my family, as the women had pioneered in several fields in the north east of India before it became the norm. This kind of a nurturing atmosphere instilled a sense of drive in me to accomplish the impossible.
But, there were limits to this atmosphere too, in spite of my mother’s generation being the first to join the work force after Independence, I found that there were still conservative notions that limited my thinking. This is where the company you keep makes a world of a difference.
I find it strange when I meet people both men & women, whose mother, or sister, or wife or even female friends have not worked or working; this is something I am not accustomed to. But then I realise that managing a household is one of the most endearing and grossly neglected sphere. Women take upon themselves the roles of a caretaker, a cook, logistics expert, financial accountant, interpersonal professional as well as an event manager! Women who run households as well as go to office should always be on priority for hiring. There is nothing a woman cannot do.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself.” - Edmund Lee
Through my scholastic years, the female friends I made and kept till today are all fighting an internal battle and this battle fuels them on the professional front. Subconsciously, the friends I made all are accomplished women and this has helped me greatly. I personally felt that keeping the right company pushes you to achieve better things. When I found the inspiration in my family circle limiting, I looked to the women in my immediate surroundings, and when I found that limiting I looked to women from other countries.This influenced my belief that being treated as an equal to my male counterparts is my birthright, and when questioned; I would simply say “Why not!” and anytime I was made to hear sexist remarks I would playfully remark back with an analogy, which put my message across.
I remember when the Mumbai attacks of 26/11 happened I was not allowed to go and cover the attacks as I was a female video journalist, after much protest and refusing to leave the office for the safe confides of my home, I was finally allowed to go, this is one of the many times I had to stand my ground in order to get a chance to showcase my capabilities and not be treated as “Fragile”. There is still a long way to go for women in the professional front.
We as women have to outperform the parameters at every stage. We are also walking on broken glass, because a woman is seen as a good with an expiry date in the office. This means it is often perceived that a woman will get married and leave her job or else go on to have children and thus companies don't feel like investing too much. The ideal hiring time for women happens to be pre-marriage and post childbirth when she has taken care of her “natural duties”. I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked as to when I am getting married and when I reply with, no I don’t want to get married, there is an overwhelming shock that consumes the room. Women do have a choice and not every woman wants to get married or have children. This is of course an alien concept to the hiring company
Growth happens through association, I would not be where I am, if I were to do it alone. It has happened through associating myself with exceptional women; that I can now confidently preside over my duties without fear or judgment.
Women have to walk a thin line between being assertive & being coy. This makes for an interesting scenario, which takes place at the work place. When you are being stern or persistent, we are often labeled as “bossy” or “stubborn” and as a result receive negative flak from our work peers. While if a man were to be the same then he is considered to be a leader, ironic isn’t it. I do feel that I have to constantly prove myself, & there is little space for any kind of slack. Even when I drive, I have to make sure I am the best driver on the road because god forbid something goes wrong then I am automatically termed as “ah! Had to be a woman driving”, while statistically, men cause and have more accidents than women.
Through my professional career, I have always opted for the unconventional. Started as a Video journalist/Associate Producer then did research for an organic tea plantation, went on to become a TV producer, dabbled in advertising to now settling for marketing and strategy. Every step of the way, I have tried to go above and beyond because women will always be expected to perform above par.
You are the company that you keep as ‘like attracts like’ so if you want to rise, you have to make sure that you are in a conducive environment and in the company of the right women to help propel you, but never forget to return the favour.
“Making way for her, ensures an easy way for you too”
About Anamika Nandy
Anamika Nandy is a Senior Manager in charge of Marketing & Communication at Robinville Intech Pvt. Ltd. She has done her Post Graduate (Diploma) in Social Media Communications at Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai & her BA (Honours) in History from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. An avid traveller, who often dwells on human behaviour & Psychology as well as trying to understand the fabric of the universe in the little span of time she is available on this planet.