By Sara Danial
Expectations of a superwoman are a myth that needs to be busted; employers should galvanize new women’s demands, and policymakers must create an environment more conducive, allowing for generous life choices for women
What do the women working corporate jobs want? This is a question that has plagued the workplaces and the workforce in equal measure.
We want equitable pay; we want supportive, understanding mentors to guide us in the right, progressive direction.
We want more representation in senior managerial roles; we want FLEXIBILITY and we want to be heard.
One qualm that needs to be addressed with urgent immediacy is balance. We want to contribute to the corporate sector but also want to be there for ‘personal stories.’ We do not want to be tired all the time.
Women juggling work, home, kids, and school and the surrounding expectations of a superwoman is a myth that must be busted.
We want to be able to take care of ourselves. We want to hit the gym. It is not a ‘lifestyle’. We want to get to that manicure we have been canceling every week. We don’t want to apologize anymore for an afternoon getaway with our friends.
Although monetary and managerial roles form a large part of ‘success’, what it all boils down to for a layman is ‘feeling valued’.
And being valued translates into getting paid equally for the equal work that we do. According to the Global Wage Report 2018/19 (ILO), women in Pakistan earn 34% less than men on average.
The same report also found that women in Pakistan constitute 90% of the bottom 1% of wage earners in the country.
At the same time, we are not looking for equality in everything that is measurable. Possible? Yes. Actionable? Maybe.
How do we explain that more times than we would like to acknowledge, we want to opt-out, out rather than lean in?
We want to perhaps work around job opportunities that are more part-time in nature. Because a lot of unpaid care requires commitment.
Not only does unpaid care work not compensate women but it is so time-consuming that we do not have the time to focus on upskilling ourselves and pursuing economic opportunities.
And these time commitments are often not quantitative and therefore, go overlooked. And this is exactly why women who land more entry jobs than men, end up with fewer mid-management, senior management, and vice president roles.
If any or all of it sounds contradictory, it is.
Yes, we want to have our cake and eat it. We want to bust another myth of ‘having it all’. In fact, there is a painful, well-kept secret – that successful, executive, career women possess.
That many of them do not have children in corporate Pakistani. A bulk of the majority does yearn for companionship and children.
Some have even gone through extraordinary lengths of complex procedures to be mothers – derailing their careers in the process – but to no avail. So what we see is a typical high-achieving woman, childless at midlife has not made a choice but a stealthy move to nonchoice.
By this, I do not mean to say that motherhood is the be-all-end-all to the life of a woman. What I really want to say is that the cutthroat corporate environment for such women comes at a cost that we do not want to pay.