Monday, October 04, 2010

More lips on 'lipstick'

So you think the issue is better childcare. Or flexitime.

Think again.

This email in response to my women vs career post comes from an 18 year old. And it gives you a glimpse of the 'advice' women receive from a very young age. A better description would be Brainwashing.

This young girl, a Bachelor of Mass Media student from Mumbai writes:

Maybe at a little to early a stage to respond... but some of my experiences take me to relating to your Blog Post. I am 18, struggling far and wide to make my place. Having 'n' number of projects and no defined schedule is a part of my life. And I totally Love it!

But then I realize, not so soon honey. I get advises from all sorts of apparently 'Practical' Mentors and Guides, to slow down a little.

"After all, you are a girl. you need a Job where you can settle,something more 9-5."

"You should be lucky enough to find a good husband who supports you, or this all is going to go for a waste".

I mean, hello, give me a break. Why do my career aspirations have to be defined on the possibilities of finding a good husband?

But aisa hai, and most women succumb very early. They fashion their lives and career with these warnings and hidaayats at the back of their mind.

Even those who do professional degrees - be it engineering, medicine or management - can hear the CD playing in their heads...

"Family first, me second".

"Children first, career second".

"Husband's career first, mine second".

You get the drift.

It is this deep-rooted social conditioning - visible and invisible - that is the real Enemy women have to battle. Every single day. In different ways.

The 18 year old is prepared to fight it out.

But anyways, 'It ain't enough to get me down Sir, you hear that!' is all I say. I am still going to go my way!

The energy and optimism of youth, unfortunately doesn't always last. And at every stage 'the husband factor' continues to haunt.

Here is the career dilemma of a young woman of 26, a software engineer with bigger dreams for her future. But...

Hi Rashmi,

Read your post Lipstick Jungle - Survival Guide, and here's my career story.

Currently 26 years old. Working as a software engineer in one of the MNC's where I am the small fish in the big sea. I want to change my career and get into Brand management of Luxury good (very niche field). Although I know what I want to do, I have a problem.

I don't want to do a normal MBA from India, for two reasons, one, I have no patience to crack CAT and get into an IIM. Two, I don't want to invest two years in studies. By the time I get out of college, which will start next year 2011, I'll be 28 years old. And I'll just be a "management trainee".

I'll need to work extra hard during this time if I have to prove myself, also since it's a niche field and since I don't have any background in branding or luxury goods, it'll be tough for me.

Also I'll have to get married by 28, as I will have to have a kid by 32 max. So MBA from India doesn't seem all that great. If I have to do MBA from some foreign university, I'll need to apply to European schools that have 1 year MBA. But also, MBA from abroad means minimum 30-40 lakhs of investment, meaning I'll have to take loan.

Again, if things turn out well, I get a job which helps me repay the loan, but by the time I am out and working, I'll need to get married. I don't know where I'll get married or where I'll have to relocate for my husband. Which means jeopardising my job which would help me replay the huge loan I'll be taking. I am quite confused. Any inputs?


On the one hand, I think J is being very 'practical', and it is better to approach a problem in the context of one's constraints. But I can't help thinking, had she been a male software engineer, 26 years old, none of these constraints would exist!

Anyways, on to more constructive advice. I think J is on the right track. A one year MBA from Europe, preferably France would be her best option. This article in Businessweek magazine has a lot of useful pointers.

As regards loan - well that is a risk anyone going for a foreign MBA must take. Given the vast potential of luxury retail in India (a market barely tapped, at present), the long-term prospects of a career in this sector are great.

As regards your husband, well, that is an X factor. Whether you remain in software or in luxury marketing, you may have to relocate. And you will probably take a 'baby break'.

So why not go for a career in a field which excites you? I think one positive thing I might add is that IMHO women do have an edge in luxury marketing, and in time you could easily go the consultant route as well.

Have faith, it will all work out but maybe not as neatly and logically as you might wish!

(Readers may add their own advice to J, especially anyone who has done a European MBA/ worked in the luxury market).

And all you women out there, do keep the stories, the issues and concerns, coming in. The email id is rashmi_b at


  1. i've heard from a couple of friends who applied there (one went, one eventually decided not to do an MBA at all) that the international university of monaco has one of the world's best mba programs for those who want to work in the luxury sector.

    not sure how well this will go off if the student wants to come back to india, not only because of cost, but also because (as you said) the indian market is still so nascent. but i can find out more if needed.


  2. Typical story. The sad truth is, it is an important consideration for women, especially once they have kids.

  3. WELL.. since she has her life all planned out, my only advice is, slow down.. relax... take a deep breath. what do u want to do? If you choose to ignore that one important fact now, you will regret it for the rest of your life..

    two, dont worry about husbands right now. No matter what you do, they will bully you for the rest of your life once you get married.. so chill.. let them do the bullyin.. u dont have to prepare for the bullying... they have been trained from their childhood and will be trained even more as the shadi approaches, and thereafter. You cannot prepare for sth like that.

    Just follow your own dream J.. anyway after you get married, you will be a cog in the wheel.. us se pehle to apni zindagi ji lo... :-)

  4. Good blogpost. Sensible and practical advice.

    The comment from How do we know is quite retarded - painting all marraiges as a net negative and all men as bullies. Sometimes it is better to say nothing if you have nothing to contribute.

  5. you are sensationalizing issue here by giving it feminist tone. whats unique about J being female
    here ? any middle class man will have equally tough problems.

    1) she want to change carrier and finding difficulties. many men also face same difficulties
    2) no patience to crack CAT - need to crack CAT. is it unique to females ?
    3) she will be management trainee at 28. same will be there with male as well
    4) she will have to work extra hard. wouldn't a male also need to do same ?
    5) no background in branding or luxury goods. wouldn't it be tough for males as well ?
    6) get married by 28 and have child by 32. same will be necessary for any normal male also.
    7) 30-40 lakhs of investment, meaning I'll have to take loan. males do not need to payback loans ?
    8) relocation for husband. husband will have responsibility of being bread winner.

    now a days women wants best of both worlds without taking any responsibilities.

    even with her own parents 1) get me all education and spend as much as you are spending on my brothers
    2) if i do not find him myself, get me married to a well-earning-having-no-other-responsibility-husband. and pay dowry if required.
    3) after i get married, i will have no responsibility for you. wouldn't male child are supposed to take care of parents in their old age ?

    this is a thoughtless article indeed.

  6. hi rashmi, thanks for sharing this very relevant article with us. i hv also been a high performer throughout and now hv taken a career break for my kid and am doing my own little thing now. i also give lectures to women on such issues and also hv writena few women and career articles on
    look forward to your feedback.

  7. as much i fully support women equality and liberation but some time"ultra-feminist types" take it to the extreme. not counting RB as one :).. as another poster said all these issues are gender agnostic.. if women feel that they are supposed to compromise on their career, men feel that they cant compromise their career.. if women feel that they have to take care of the kid, men feel that they have a moral obligation to take care of the old parents.. if women feel "getting settled" by a certain age is important, so do men too.. and so the story goes on

    unbridled pursuit of what you want (at a particular point of time) while forgeting the bigger design of family and society shows up in the complete breakdown of social (and ultimately national) fabric in the west.. women's lib ran crazy in west in 60's and 70's resulting in divorce rate, % of children out of wedlock, singles in their 40's and 50's, childless couples by choice, etc shooting in 80's and 90's.. the result is the family as a unit of society is finished.. kids dont get support from parents to do higher studies, husbands and wives do not share their wealth and provide emotional support to the each other.. one can see people in their 50's blowing their money on makeup and bars still trying to play the dating game.. no wonder Europe is a dying continent and US will be behind Asian countries in next few decades.... not suggesting at all that only women have to sacrifice.. point is people should consider the bigger frame and long term happiness rather than instant gratification (cancer to western societies)

  8. How about getting a husband who can repay your 40 lakhs loan once you get married?

  9. Thank Rashmi.. For You know what..!! :-)

  10. Oh no! Those pesky cakewalas and flowerwalas are back :-(

  11. Great article Rashmi!
    I found the comments even more entertaining, especially Kaho Pyare's..
    I'd like to tell him that while the same problems may exist for women, the repercussions and solutions to those problems are different for the two sexes-
    Men can get married even after 35 too, and have kids till they are 40; women cannot think that way. Men will never even think of giving up their career after marriage, but sometimes women are faced with no options because of the kind of husband or in-laws they get.
    The point being- Men can afford to bring drastic changes in their career without having marriage and other issues bog them down too much- they still remain issues to think about, but they are more workable for men than for women. And whether you like it or not, it is a fact in even modern India. This has more to do with the "social conditioning" as you put it, rather than a choice on the woman's part.

  12. Hey, I'm a 20 yr old, and I'm giving my management entrance exams this year. I'd just like to point out to J that a lot of Indian Management Institutes have an executive MBA program (1 yr) as well. For eg, ISB (which requires work experience), FMS, MDI Gurgaon, etc. N since she's a software engineer, she could try her luck at the IITS?


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