Image for representational purpose only
Image for representational purpose only

About 35% of women have no equal opportunities for career growth as men, 58% encounter workplace bias: IIMK survey

Gender stereotyping and bias were the key factors hindering the progress of women professionals. Around 58 per cent of the respondents said they encountered bias at the workplace

A staggering 35 per cent of women said they do not have equal opportunities for career growth as men in their organisations, in the second Pan-IIM survey on Women in the Workplace, an initiative of IIM Kozhikode. The results are an evident decline from the 49 per cent in the previous edition of the survey last year. The survey received over 350 responses from alumni and students across the 20 IIMs, with the majority of respondents working at mid to senior management levels across industries. While most of the responses came from India, there were also responses received from 15 other countries.  

Gender stereotyping and bias emerged as key factors hindering the progress of women professionals. Around 58 per cent of the respondents said they encountered bias at the workplace. The most commonly encountered biases are Prove it again and The Tightrope, found the survey. Almost 26 per cent encountered the Prove it Again bias where women are held to a higher standard than men and must continuously prove themselves. Women are promoted on performance, while men are promoted on potential. While 23 per cent encountered The Tightrope bias where professional women are seen as too weak or too assertive — and in response, must try to balance between the two.

The dearth of women in leadership roles was also starkly evident with 61 per cent saying that female representation in their organisations’ top leadership tier was insignificant and that they require more role models to look up to. The lack of female role models made it to the top three challenges, along with the lack of mentorship and lack of strong professional networks and allies.

Keeping in mind the current pandemic situation, the survey included questions on the post-pandemic work scenario. About 81 per cent of the respondents said they prefer to work from home at least partially even post-COVID. When questioned on how organisations can make the post-pandemic work environment more conducive, respondents said that apart from safety and hygiene, there is a pressing need to set expectations around remote work. In order to ensure that remote working does not result in burnout, the respondents want organisations to enforce strict adherence to work hours and train managers on how to manage a remote workforce effectively.

Speaking of the reason behind conducting the survey, IIM Kozhikode Director Professor Debashis Chatterjee, said, "Business Schools are a microcosm of the larger society which form the larger ecology of business. Business is no longer an only male prerogative. Our move to bring in 54 per cent women in 2013 radically transformed the 50-year old IIM tradition, wherein earlier no more than 8-10 per cent of the classroom were women. This game-changing process in turn signalled a major shift across women representation not only in B-Schools but also in businesses. With this survey, we attempt to go a step further to decode and give a voice to the women from IIMs who continue to challenge the stereotypes and break new grounds. The women of today only demand equal opportunities, it is their time to lead and shine."

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