Thursday, May 23, 2013

If I Don’t Look Out For It, I Won’t See It

At times we just don’t see it, although discrimination is right in front of us.

 Discrimination is more than just visual – it’s a feeling. It is a feeling usually only felt by the one who is being discriminated against. Growing up in India, one accepts patriarchy as the way of life, as normality. Unless one experiences a different social system its very hard to see the in-built discriminatory practices.

Growing up I remember “Men” were the leaders, the decision makers, the ones with the answers (or so I thought, as they were always vocal about their achievements). When a woman did emerge amongst them, she was treated as a unique anomaly, almost against the rule of nature. This picture changed drastically in my youth at school when girls were neck to neck with the guys (and usually out performing them). Today in my professional space, I see how my female coworkers are as capable as the guys but are tested a lot more. It’s as if one is waiting for them to fail.

In India, even working women are expected to take care of all of their household responsibilities. If a woman stays late in the office she is socially scrutinized and her character is questioned. Why is she not spending enough time at home? But if a man works over-time, he is considered to be working hard, no questions asked. This is just one example—there are many more situations like this that occur on a regular basis. As a man, I don’t recognize many of them, even when they occur right in front of me!

I think it will take a lot of time and a continuous effort to be gender sensitive at our work place, plus the presence of many more women leaders and decision makers, before this scenario changes. To turn unique into universal, we need to create a work environment that trends towards gender equality.

But day to day, we concentrate so hard on our work and to be the best at what we do. At times we just don’t see it, although discrimination is right in front of us. For all those who disagree, watch this video and you will be surprised at your own awareness about what you see in front of you:

What are you missing?

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