What’s in a Gender ?

Last week, I was interviewing a candidate. Towards the end of it, as it’s my practice, I asked him if he had any questions for me regarding HOOT360. He asked, “Me and my friend had come for the first round of interviews to your office and she noticed that you have a majority of girls in your team. Why is that so? Is it because women are good at Marketing?”

The question surprised me. I had never really thought of it. Of course, I knew it, that we have 6 girls in a team of 9 making the girl, boy ratio 2:1. It got me thinking. I never considered any skill as a boy skill or a girl skill. The majority was not by design. Anyone who understands the process of buying and selling, anyone who understands consumers, anyone who understands business and anyone who understands communications can be good at marketing. Why did he have this question? What’s in a Gender? – Nothing. Right? Gender doesn’t matter. It’s all merit and skills. All of us believe in gender equality. Right? And of course, it’s 8th March, International Woman’s Day. So yes, there has to be gender equality.

I have always believed that equality is either there or not there. It cannot be given nor can it be taken. Equality has to be ingrained. It’s like attitude. You just have it. So, do we have gender equality? At HOOT360, one may think that because the numbers are skewed towards girls it’s either there or biased towards the female gender. Definitely numbers should neither dictate nor indicate equality.

The question – ‘What’s in a Gender?’ comes to the fore once again. For skills, creativity, commitment, focus, intelligence, merit – Nothing is in a gender. But for everything else – let’s not be naïve. What’s in a Gender? My answer is ‘Everything’. Yes, everything. For some strange reason or coincidence, at Hoot we have had majority female Ullus. And from day one I have realised and at times made to realise that Gender does matter.

We have had 16 women work with us over the last 3 years. Each one of them had a very special strength. Strength that ensured that at workplace, their output is equal to the other gender. No man has to manoeuvre family pressure to get married at the age of 22. Career as an option is not really an option for both the Genders – for men it’s the only option and for women it’s not a must have. Girls have to keep into consideration which part of the world they would get dislocated after marriage and hence incorporate a disruption in their careers. Then there is child birth. There is maternity leave policy in every work place. It’s mandatory. But do they actually come back to work with a higher growth? How do they actually account for the lost 6 to 9 months? Can’t there be a sort of re-induction bringing them up to speed with the changed or grown environment at work. Many corporates are getting more and more considerate about it and even sensitive. But in smaller firms, it is hard to absorb.

While working, I tend to forget that if it is getting late, then it might be more inconvenient to the women in my team. For me work comes first. But I have to keep in mind that the girl in my team is going to travel alone and that too a long distance – Kalyan, Shahad for example. Leave aside my selfish thought of getting work done, but seriously if we are a land of culture and heritage, a land of the Goddess, a country which is modern, why should anyone have to think twice as to what time is it of day or night for a girl to be safe in a journey. Yes, Mumbai is much safer than most other cities. And yet, I have to say, “Ping when you reach.” Will the day ever come when the need to do so won’t exist? My team makes me proud every passing day. The more I come to know of them and the more I know them, I am left in awe. Every one in my team brings in a special talent that is changing the way digital marketing, social media marketing, content writing, graphic designing, web designing, development is created and consumed. But what makes it really special are their eternal positive attitudes, which have the strength and courage to tackle every challenge the biased minds pose to them. They have the will and the smartness to circumvent every hurdle that comes their way. And all this is just to ensure they get an equal opportunity.

Biologically, it seems that women are weaker. My only retort to anyone who thinks or says so is – Are you mad? I see my team working hard even when their biological monthly cycle gives them excruciating pain. Apart from the uniformed men, I haven’t seen any man working hard even when they are bleeding.

That’s the strength they have which makes them the best Ullus ever. But that’s not all, their capacity for fun is as boundless as is their talent. I am glad that I have the opportunity and privilege to work with these special women. Here’s a shout out to my co-founders Priyanka Dharnidharka, Anuradha Gadre, and all those who have contributed and are contributing to HOOT 360 – Darshana Deshmukh, Priyanka Dalal, Tania Lobo, Kimberly Periera, Priyanka, Aditi Mohile, Amruta Mandavkar, Priyanka Mehta, Ashwini Ingale, Shulanda Singh, Steffi Fernandes, Girija Kalekar, Hemangi Patil, Pradnya Chilap and Selvi Thevar.
It’s been fun and enriching to work with you all.
And, “What’s in a Gender?”
Everything & Nothing!!!

Author: Ranjeet Pawar

Date 08/03/2019

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