Wednesday, July 15, 2009

EQUALITY AT WORK PLACE

It was distressing to read news of a Lady Officer of Army having been awarded punishment of dismissal by Court Martial. It was also stated that this is the first time a Lady Officer of Army has been awarded this punishment while earlier an IAF Lady Officer too had been similarly dismissed. What is more painful is that in both these cases offences apart from disobedience of lawful command etc included making false allegation of harassment against their superior officers. Being an ex-Defence Officer this set me thinking what could be the malady. Even in earlier times there was a tendency that any officer or for that matter even other ranks when facing any disciplinary action used to make allegations of discrimination against their superiors. Now with induction of women in the Armed Forces such allegations have taken shape of sexual harassment also apart from discrimination. During my service career I had been advocating for induction of women into Armed Forces which materialized some time in early 1990s. I had taken premature retirement in 1991 and though I kept in touch with my friends in service I would not be able to say with conviction the kind of atmosphere which was there after women joined Services. We during the rigorous pre-commissioning training are also shaped to be gentlemen. But there are always some black sheep in every group. There is no denial that wherever we have men and women as co- workers there are chances of sexual advances or harassment not only in India but even in advanced countries.

Armed Forces had been MALES ONLY citadel till recently with exception of Lady Officers being inducted in the Medical branch. After opening up doors to women to join Armed Forces as officers in branches other than combat there was distinct possibility of curiosity and condescending attitude more than resentment by male colleagues. Here I would also like to state without casting aspersion on anyone that women by virtue of their nature do like attention of men to a certain degree. Lady Officers form a small %age in a largely male dominated Forces. Thus it is natural that they do get some amount of extra attention. Now what could be the remedy for such situation. It has to be two fold - for men and for women. And it is applicable not only to Armed Forces but all spheres where we have men and women as co-workers.

There is a need for code of conduct for men as well as women. Taking up men first, they need to be sensitized to accept women as co-workers only without gender consideration. It is easier said than done as most of the men would be with background of male dominated society, be it education or home. A large %age of our population lives in semi urban and rural areas where inter-mixing of both genders is very limited if not totally non existent. Thus curiosity towards women when working in close proximity will always be there. In my opinion we need to have supervised exposure of men from early childhood itself towards girls. It could be by having co-educational schools and colleges. There could be events during school / college days where both genders carry out tasks together eg declamation contests / debates, dramas, sports, Scouts / NCC camps and other competitive activities. Of course segregation for living whenever in a camp or away from home will be required and that is where school / college administration needs to be efficient. Proper counseling by trained / experienced persons on frequent basis is a must. Parents too will need to be more of friendly guides than stern parents. They should encourage children to discuss their curiosities and doubts freely. This would ensure that at later stage women colleagues are not looked at as something strange as well as women too will feel confident to work shoulder to shoulder with men. It will not ensure total eradication of sexual harassment chances but it will reduce these to a large extent, Western countries are an example. I do not in any way suggest that we ape West but we need to adopt good points mixed with our own value system where parents and teachers play the most important role of shaping future generation who would have sense of equality. Till we can train future generation of workers in this manner we need to have regular counseling sessions for both working men and women.

Now for working women, there is a need for them also to realize that they are equal to men as far as working conditions are concerned. They should not expect or encourage undue favours. They should shoulder their responsibilities with utmost diligence. They also need to be aware not to generate undue interest by their behavior or conduct. Everyone - men or women, have basic right to live the way they like to as long as they do not cause harm or hurt to anyone. At the same time there are some basic norms which need to be addressed in the right spirit. It is not my intention to lay down any dress code but they should themselves see that they dress as occasion demands. In a meeting or party a woman wearing too much of clothing or too little will draw glances. Make up and jewelry should not be too loud. A woman giving presentation while wearing very large dangling earrings will distract attention from her subject with frequent movement of the same. My idea is not to put blame on anyone but just to say that moderation in all spheres needs to be exercised by both men and women. And it is upto a woman to keep unwanted male attention at bay by being frank to tell such person firmly. If he still persists then matter could be reported to higher authorities.

We surely need to treat both men and women as equals in any work sphere.

35 comments:

Keshi said...

Good post Jack.

In life, both men and women seek equality of opportunities, treatment, speech etc etc. But at work, it's not that easy to achieve that. Sadly for women, it's a male-dominated world. Most of the time, at work (armed forces or not), men always seem to hv the upper hand. And they get all the promotions, they often hv the last word, and they treat women like 2nd class citizens or sex objects. Its very common that we think it is. Just that, not many women talk abt it. They r surviving somehow to earn their dough.


but like u said, both men and women need to u'stand and respect each other. changing mentalities/prejudices etc is a very hard thing to do, and it will take time.


**Now for working women, there is a need for them also to realize that they are equal to men as far as working conditions are concerned. They should not expect or encourage undue favours.

I agree totally. Some women SEEK to be treated in a special way just cos they r women. And thats not accepted.


All in all, ur post is a good reminder for both men and women, to step up and be fair to each other at workplaces.


Keshi.

Keshi said...

**it is very common THAN we think it is.

sorry abt the typo b4 :)

Keshi.

Shruti said...

do u see hypocrisy here? I do. they talk about wanting to be treated as equals, but eventually, they ask for more privileges. Yea, right, they should behave.
..agree to everything u've said here.

Clueless said...

Nice post..!!
Equality is missing everywhere...!!

there are few homes today...where the male child is treated better than the girl child...
although both are from the same womb

Women are stronger than men in many aspects and vice versa...
So, both are important..!!
they should be treated equally...

Women faces more pains than a man does, both physically and emotionally..!!

Talk bout Society??? workplaces?
When God did not make them equal
haha.....

Ki said...

Agreed. :)

Pavi!!!! said...

Agreed. N here is a saying I quite liked : “When women seek to become equals with men, they lack ambition” !

Vyshu said...

so True Jack ..

I totally agree with all perspectives u have mentioned in this post ..so balanced n true..:)

I come across lot of Women enjoying Pampering,jus because they are women.

Unwanted pampering is harmful.I so liked your approach in this post. Equal rights we need,and do take equal responsibility ..:)

I know,every one wants attention,but one shd know the limitations.

Sometimes its more difficult to avoid that pampering,or one may not realize its bad effects.

Believe me,i know how to treat such traits..:)

Good post Jack as always..

Take care.

Vyshu

Pramoda Meduri said...

Hey Jack,
Thanks for this post. it was so informative and true as well.

I'm so excited to know that you r an Ex-defence officer..I salute u with all my respect.

With ref to the topic:
Yeah, i do agree with ur views. The equality is required, in fact it is a must.

If equal rights are to be gained, equal responsibilities have to be shared. I agree with u and vyshu in this particular point.

Ang i would like to tell u that i'm really impressed with the way u have suggested the councelling sessions, during every one's student life. It is more required, especially in countried like Ours.

Very nice post.. Keep expressing.

Pramoda

PS: Jack, I'd like to have ur review on my "A hope@indian education system" in my blog. I would be glad to knw some more points in addition to mine.

Jack said...

KESHI :

I fully agree with you that it is male dominated world. Women have to somehow survive. We need to address this and see how best we can change this inequality not only at work place but in larger picture. Women too have to understand and contribute towards it. I am quoting from a lady's comment on my o3 space " this far and no farther" needs to be the mantra for everybody in all spheres. How true! Isn't it? Take care


SHRUTI :

I agree it should be equal rights and responsibilities. A little consideration for a woman is not out of place but too much is uncalled for. For example, she could be sent home in company vehicle after late work or allowed to go in time if her presence is not a must for late work and similar situations. Take care


CLUELESS :

I agree with you about discrimination shown to girl child as compared to male sibling. I have written on that issue in my post " Strength of a family " here some time ago. We need to treat both at par in each sphere and also women to should not look for or expect or seek extra considerations. Take care


KI :

Thanks for support. Are you back? Take care


PAVI :

Right you are. Women are definitely superior than men in many aspects. I agree with the saying in toto. Take care


VYSHU :

You have said very rightly. For enjoying equal rights one has to take on equal responsibilities too. As I said to Shruti above a little consideration to woman worker for her safety is in order but not unwanted pampering. One needs to lay down limit and be firm this far & no farther. Take care


PRAMODA :

Like respect, equality too has to be earned by sharing responsitilities too equally. A worker, man or woman, should not look for undue previlages by doing undesirable acts. I am overwhelmed with the respect showered by you. I hope I can do something for you if need ever arises. If you wish you may write to me. I will visit your space soon and read suggested post. Take care

Tickled pink said...

Hello Sir.
It is a very informative post with honest analysis. Yes, battle of the sexes is not only in India but is in the whole world even in advanced country's.
It is true that women should be dressed in accordance with the occassion to avoid any sort of trouble which is found very rarely.

But in work places cases of sexual harrasment has become like a day to day news.

I liked reading this article in which you've very nicely put up both the sides of the matter.
Regards

Cocoberry said...

yeah its high time men and women were treated EQUALLY.. i hope that happens SOON! its really really frustrating to see the discrimination.. the under-estimation of women.. the harassment..

Amrita said...

very nice and practical thoughts there Jack

Clueless said...

i came n commented..then y did u miss me??
Haww
:(

Jack said...

TICKLED PINK :

My belief is not to point finger on any gender but to take a balanced view and see how best we can resolve this issue. Unfortunately God has made women in a manner that they are on the receiving end for everything, thus they need to take some precautionary steps. Take care


COCOBERRY :

I too am looking forward to equality being in force before I am recalled by Creator. Take care


AMRITA :

I am sure you must have noticed these in your work place too. How I wish such discriminations vanish as soon as possible. Take care


CLUELESS :

You miss the ones whom you feel close to and care for, isn't it? Take care

Clueless said...

aww yesss for sure!!!
Sho shaweettttt

Cursed♪♫ said...

Hi!!
It's been long. How have you been?
Thanks a lot for your comment. :)

Sakshi said...

sorry for late comment... but- great post and i agree- its high time that the discrimination ends.what world are we living in really... its just unacceptable that men are still favoured over women even though they are more efficient workers...

Rach said...

Agreed 100% It's time we get equality.

Tabitha said...

Very well written :)
How much ever one debates on the topic..the truth lies in the fact that this world is male dominated...

Jack said...

CLUELESS :

It is nice of you to accept this fact. Take care


JUHI :

Hope you agree with what I said here. Take care


SAKSHI :

It is my keen desire too to see this unfair discrimination removed. Women too have to play an important role in achieving this. Take care


RACH :


Welcome. I would request you to read my older posts too as you are in the formative age and it may help you to view the world in proper perspective. I will visit you soon and read your writings. Take care


TABITHA :


So nice to see you after long time. I agree it is male dominated world and definitely needs to be equal for all. Take care

Chakoli said...

Agrred dear!!

But undue favours is not asked for..
its is given..
thats teh basic distiction.... i would say which will always be there...
how much we talk abouit equality... we shud keep in mind that male and female are different...

♪♪HARINI♪♪ said...

yeah i agree on that very much. but when both men and woman are given the opportunities, i feel that sometimes some of them wont feel comfortable in some jobs. i given a choice, personally wont choose to become a mechanic or a salesman or something like that. though my mom is a civil engineer, i wouldnt prefer to be one and do jobs like that.

however, people should be treated equally at work places cos they have opted for the same thing and have equal potential.
right?

Ketan said...

Hello sir!

This was a very balanced post, and I'm very impressed with your giving due weightage to all the factors involved.

It's become very commonplace for a few women to send subliminal messages almost akin to seducing through multiple cues like dressing, manner of talking, deliberate suggestive touching of male colleagues, and then raising a hue and cry when a lewd advance is made by someone they didn't want to make that advance.

But even then, I'd maintain, no one has a right to outrage anyone else's modesty.

But on the other hand, many times sexual harassment of a woman occurs despite her maintaining decorum.

So keeping these factors in mind, your suggestions are quite practical.

One more concern is of establishing the veracity of accusations leveled against one's superiors. I think that must be extremely difficult, and there's margin for passing the wrong judgement in such cases.

One more problem is with increasing emphasis being laid on external appearance. This leads to 'objectification' of both males and females and increased chances of unsolicited sexual advances.

Take care.

Rhapsody B. said...
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Rhapsody B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

CHAKOLI :

It will take eons to achieve equality for both genders. If I am not mistaken even in developed nations discrimination still exists though may be in lesser level. I agree men and women are different. That is why I say we should be able to get along well and in a acceptable manner at workplace. Efforts are needed from both sides. Take care


HAIRINI :

I agree choice of profession should be left to individual, be it man or woman. Some jobs are better suited for men, like you said mechanic, heavy vehicle drivers, taxi drivers as these involve fair amount of risk. Also fighting arms of Defence where in the event of war there are chances of being captured. Women are liable to more humiliation than their male counterparts in such case - Geneva Convention or not. My focus was that both men and women have to make efforts to make work place congenial for each other. Take care


KETAN :

Welcome to my space. Thanks for such supportive comments. Under the present scenario it would be prudent for a male superior not to have long discussions with woman subordinate in seclusion. That is where glass partitioned offices are useful. Please do read some of my older posts too, if you find time. I will be visiting you soon. Take care

Rhapsody B. said...

Namaste.....
Very interesting perspective, I agree in part. The second to last paragraph suggestions already exists in the western world as well as the Caribbean, Trinidad, Antigua, Barbados just to name a few.

In regards to your last paragraph while I agree with some of what you said in terms of not dressing to provocatively. I would also say that no matter how conservative a woman dresses, how little make up she applies, even if women wear goony sacks with paper bags over their heads if a man is a predator he will find her, her very femininity is a tool against her, he will latch on to any excuse to qualify, quantify and solidify his act of degradation and violation. Those men (unfortunately) feel that the very existence of woman gives them the right of authority and superiority hence automatic consent of domination. Perhaps psychological screening should also be added to the criteria of acceptance into the military. The way a person thinks feels and view the world are a more accurate assessment and more telling than simply physical fitness.
Women making false claims do not bode well for those who are predatorily victimize by those in authority and peer level. It casts aspersions onto real victims with legitimate claims of abuse and violations and causes other men (good men) to doubt and gather in acts of solidarity unknowingly supporting perpetrators. Hence isolating female complainants and re-victimizing them while strengthening the predator’s delusions that he is right in his thinking and actions.

Very interesting piece, well written and articulated, Thank you for sharing, it was enlightening, have a blessed day and a fantastic weekend.

Peace.

Jack said...

RHAPSODY :

Welcome to my space. I had said in the middle of this in advice for men that it would not eradicate sexual harrassment but reduce it to large extent. Also I said too much or too little of clothes will draw glances. I agree men will find a woman even if she is dressed like a male but that does not debar us from seeking some remedies. I will visit you soon. Please do read some of my older posts too, if you have time. Take care

Ketan said...

Sir,

Am not sure if you're subscribed to comments on your older blog-posts, but I've gone through all of your posts, and left comments on quite a few of them.

@ Rhapsody B.: I'm not sure if there's any practical possibility of testing someone's psychological attitude towards the opposite gender vis-a-vis what intensity of attraction they experience, and how much are they able to restrain their behavior in face of the said attraction. And one's overall circumspect conduct may not ensure complete absence of indecent advances, but certainly deliberately indulging in inappropriate behavior increases the chances of such advances manifold.

Good day to both!

Mystique said...

very good points you've made....it all starts with the schools of course. people who've been brought up in coed schools tend to be more comfortable with the opposite sex

Jack said...

KETAN :

I have seen your comments on some of my older posts. I will visit post suggested by you in Need of the Hour. Take care


MYSTIQUE :

If we have inter-mixing of genders from childhood it makes both feel easy to interact at later age. Of course, proper guidence is needed from parents as well as teachers to ensure it is healthy relationship. Take care

Zazu Ta said...

Hi Jack!

It's been a while. I did read your article. I totally agree with you when you say that lack of exposure is the problem. We're used to segregating the sexes... it's just not healthy. I think, the issue is trust.

preeti said...

Dear Jack,
First timer here and feels really great to have you regularly in my space. Thanks for liking it.
This post is so so true and could very well relate it to my daily experiences at work place. True. Some women like to be treated special. Some women like to claim physical and emotional weakness. But that is the way it is. No matter how hard you try to knock sense, we can never wake up people who are pretending to be asleep :):)

Jack said...

ZAZU :

Trust has to be built up over long time. It can not happen only when people start working. It has to start from early age. Posted new one today. Take care


PREETI :

Welcome. It is nice to see you here. It is an uphill task to drill feeling of equality in working men as well as women. But try we must, isn't it? Posted new one today. Take care

Vandita said...

I agree whole heartedly... equality at work place is what we all want :)