Thursday, June 30, 2005

Career cop-out

"Mumbai girls are more adventurous than boys in their choice of career..." reports this morning's Bombay Times.

A survey of 1800 students aged 15 to 18 found that 61% of female students (vs 39% of guys) favoured offbeat 'careers' that included vocations like dog training, tattoo artistry, paragliding, sleuthing and teaching yoga.

Sounds more like luxury, than adventure to me. When a girl says, "Dad I want to study Philosophy" or "Mom, I want to become a dog trainer" here are the two likely scenarios:

a) OK, dear - whatever it is that makes you happy
b) We thought you could do better than that but OK, dear - whatever it is that makes you happy

The sentence left unsaid after that:"Theek hai, baad mein shaadi hi to karni hai".

Given the times, most parents would like their daughters to have some skill or ability to be financially independent - if need be. But very few actually push and prod the girls into gruelling careers.

In fact, some - of the Old School - are secretly relieved:"Zyaada padh-likh kar kya karna hai?"

Take the same dilemma when raised by the opposite sex. When a guy says, "Dad I want to study Philosophy" or "Mom, I want to become a dog trainer" here are the likely scenarios:

a) OK dear - whatever it is that makes you happy ... (the rare, 'enlightened' response - usually from parents with sufficently large bank balances).

b) We thought you could do better than that... AND WE INSIST THAT YOU DO!!! ... (reaction you can expect from the majority)

The sentence left unsaid after that: "Remember, you are the man, the Provider!!"

Actually it usually doesn't even come to that - most guys naturally gravitate towards careers where there is money and power. They are more risk averse simply because the chances of finding a career-minded woman who is going to support them while they paint or sing for pocket money are low.

And, let's face it, the idea itself is unacceptable to the average Male Ego. Of course, neither is the average Female keen on a house-husband.

So the Old Roles are modified a bit, but not that changed. essentially! And honestly - barring a few unconventional equations here and there - I'm not sure that they ever truly will...


  1. Ankit1:42 PM

    When girls choose risky careers its not because they are bold but they know that there is a Cushion in guise of *Provider*.

  2. I feel that it is a very individual decision, and as writers, news or otherwise we like generalizations. It sounds good to put down in a headline, or an article that women choose bold career paths, or even for that matter that women know that cushions exist if they dont do well in their careers. I know people who learn to make peace with whatever careers they choose, something that I can never see myself doing. I need to be passionate about my work, male ego or no male ego and I know women who derive a lot of self worth out of their jobs too. So ultimately I feel that everyone should take the "road less travelled" whether it is an MBA or a Bachelor/Bachelorette in Tattoo artistry.

  3. How correct! We guys can't tolerate having cheap wh0r3s and wooden chairs.

  4. Agree that its not adventure, that the girls are looking for, rather a way to spend time untill they get married.
    Assuming male ego as the drive for more money and power, is incorrect because, at the time when one needs to decide about career (10+2 or a 3-4 years later), the criteria is not male ego, but insecurity which leads one to think of secure and achievable career. Again, the feeling of being a provider is second to the motivation of doing something.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Bullseye! When I read just the first few lines of the article, the two thoughts that came to my mind were the ones you put:

    For the girls: Jyada padh-likhke kya karna hain, baad mein shaadi hi to karni hain.
    For the boys: You are the man, the provider for the house.

    I agree to all that you say. It will take generations and generations to accept the role-change.

    Most of the times the guy and the girl are completely comfortable with each other's choices, it's the generation before them who fails to comprehend it.

    Since we cannot disappoint them or displease them, we try to appease them, cause at an age like that very rarely will they see and agree to our point of conviction.

    Again very few do agree with us but they are so few that you can count them on fingers.!!

  7. Highly educated women are always the cats on the wall types-they want a good career and the same time want to give enough time for kids. Unless a woman chooses not to have kids it doesnot make sense to go for risky careers-because end of the day it is the mothers responsibility to bring up good kids-whatever we talk about sharing the household tasks-it is in our genes and not in men.

  8. i think that its a very to-each-hi/her-own kinda subject-gerneralizations make the world an easier place to talk about,but the ground reality is very often very different.

  9. Actually it usually doesn't even come to that - most guys naturally gravitate towards careers where there is money and power. They are more risk averse simply because the chances of finding a career-minded woman who is going to support them while they paint or sing for pocket money are low.

    And, let's face it, the idea itself is unacceptable to the average Male Ego. Of course, neither is the average Female keen on a house-husband.

    Is the Idea acceptable to females?

    Go and check you will find the answer most of the times is no.

  10. ...let's face it, the idea itself is unacceptable to the average Male Ego.

    I think that this is a highly generalized statement, like the once we have seen on this blog before. While I understand that these are your opinions, I think that the tendency to make such sweeping statements must be tempered.

    Just yesterday, I was telling a friend of mine about Amitabh-Jaya starrer movie "Abhiman", which depicts a strong successful man unable to come to terms with the fact that his wife had a much superior talent and hence was in much greater demand.

    Much has changed in the thirty or so years since 'Abhiman' was released. If today's women think that their spouces/boyfriends will not be able to handle their success, then the women have a lot of thinking to do and not vice versa.

  11. Anonymous6:26 PM

    No insight to add- but another great piece ... my boyfriend currently makes less than me and even though it hasn't been verbalized I know its a sore point with him.

  12. well said ...really keen observation

  13. Well, obviously what's commendable is the fact that women can do all this, which they couldn't a while back. I don't know whether to be pleased or irritated that brilliant women choose careers off the beaten track.

    Industrial-patriarchy, as you say, still rules, though.

  14. Anonymous9:59 PM

    My teachers always used to tell me that passing comments was a bad thing.
    Yeah - I felt the EXACT same way when I read the article. I have seen this first hand - a female friend studied like hell for the past two years, passed out HSC and CET just missing the merits, has talent for being a good doctor, but she's going into HM. Nothing against it mind, but everyone knows where the moolah is.
    I have taken Journalism as a career choice. I don't know how the prospects are for me right now. I am entering BMM in a pretty good college - classes start tommorrow.
    Forgot the point - why does every single post have a jab at males? (but writing this pretty much proves the ego eh?)
    I might go down the 'pseudo-feminist' way if this keeps happening...

  15. I scanned some of the blogs and I feel so proud of the present Indian young techno-generation. When I left India in 1957 to Africa and later to Canada, India was just a country on a world map described as insignificant.
    Today its because of you the modern technocrates who raised the knowldge base industries from Sea level to Sky level altitude.
    Congratulations to all and keep it up the good work to make your Mother Land proud of u.

  16. Anonymous12:23 AM

    Will some smart person (I merely believe in the necessity to be politically correct) start up a forum in response to this blog? It will really help the comments and discussion - and the threading thing will keep it organised.
    Now please for heaven's sake, don't start two.

  17. well, i'd have to agree with you here. just that i dont think males are risk-averse as such. it has more to do with power and money than abt finding a female who would support them. atleast in these days, i dont think that the "male ego" plays a huge part in career decisions.

    and abt the "pseudo-feminist" tag, it feels like the posts convey a message in the lines of "gals are better simply coz guys suck" - i think thats 'pseudo'-feministic...

  18. Rashmi,
    Nice article and generally quite accurate .Speaking from my family perspective,my parents definitely expected me to be the breadwinner.So of course another engineer was manufactured.
    Don't you think it's quite a nice setup for girls where they get the luxury of choosing their profession rather than mindlessly entering the rat race like us poor guys?

    "And, let's face it, the idea itself is unacceptable to the average Male Ego."

    Ouch!Your blog is really battering our egos nowadays.
    FYI:The average male has evolved beyond caveman status.

  19. I have 2 sister' elder to me by 3 years and one younger. When I graduated from college, elder was already earning...but her earnings were not accepted by my parents (even in times of need) and they simply waited till I got a job and started earning and supporting the family. In such a situation...what choice do men have really???...ego or not. This was 12 years ago so I am not sure if things are any different now. Just my experience. Very nice post again.

  20. Siddharth5:59 AM

    Im surprised that you take those surveys even with an iota of seriousness !!! It's gonna take a long time before any significant change takes place.

  21. don't know what hit my head stronger.. the fact that 'ladkiyon ko shaadi hi tto karni hai', or 'ladkon ko ghar chalane ke liye paise kamana hai'
    if today a boy joins NIFT or something similar, eyes start staring at him... with one question: where will the money come from,when u get married.

    and then, when i think about myself, i guess i would be too egoistic to marry someone better of than myself. guess that would be a major concern for me that my spouse is equal, but definitely not better off than me. now it makes me think.. hmm..

  22. Anonymous7:07 AM

    I am a guy who wouldn't mind marying someone who brings home more dough than me.
    And I am sure I am not the only one.

    And in case someone is incredulous enough to get ideas, I am also straight.

  23. very nice topic......

  24. hmm.. evokes a thought and almost the whole thing is true.. but some young ladies might tend to disgaree/differ on some points.. like some who would claim to be rebellious enough to have their own way..

  25. Anonymous11:38 AM

    Rashmi, as an editor your writing style seriously sucks... you're so long- winded in your arguments... whew. Plese learn to write!!!

  26. hmmm,

    another facet to the situation is that in the North, girls are still viewed as 'liabilities' who will 'drain' your cashflow in about 18-24 years. Expect no rewards from rearing a girl child. So, if you are a middle-aged 'conservative' (read: egoistic chauvinistic male example of pomposity), living in an upscale South Delhi locality, holding down a job in a Multinational Bank who (thankfully) doesnt tell you what your social responsibilities are, and your one daughter, whom you were forced by the societal pressures to send to Lady Hardinge College, was influenced by the stupid new waves of independence, esoteric career choices, and flights of fancy about intelligent decisions, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Because nobody better than Bhajan Lal can tell you that women are good as cardboard cut-outs during Elections standing in for their husbands in jail, or for making hot rotis in the medeival kitchens.

    And suppporting children on careers are a wild goose chase supplemented by a loss of hard-earned money that would have gone a long way in making your son an MBA and getting a fat dowry to assure you of a prosperous retirement.



  27. Anonymous3:57 PM

    thats true! abt 90-95% of the students in studying liberal arts in india are gals . the rest 5-10% of men are generally who have flithy rich parents and or dont want to achieve anything in life.

    and no wonder engineering sucks! the % of females is really low ( ever been to the IITs or IIMs ?? ha ha)

    anywho... you can expect sensible stuff in bombay times cmon... its just a paper thats marketting itself, indiatimes, their movies, socialities blah blah

  28. Haven't read the comments. According to a friend of mine, the extremely selective nature of our undergraduate admission process makes us risk averse as the margin of error is very low.

  29. At the core of the issue, Rashmi has clearly identified the psychology of girls and their parents behing allowing them to choose such offbeat careers.
    But I would also like to add that it's not only the parents, but also the girls who do keep such thoughts in mind that, even if they don't opt for the secure jobs, they can easily survive (Most likely) resorting to their families, before or after marriage.
    In this male-dominated society, female also sometimes enjoy the dominance of the male, so-called and presumed, THE PROVIDER!

  30. I feel it is correct that gals are more adventurous in their choice of careers. Pure Sciences is one field which is being ignored by the recent hype of IT.
    Biotechnology is a great field. With the indian drug companies opening up the job market is awesome. i wish to see an article in this regards on your magazine.

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