On the occasion of Women’s Day, Medianews4u reached out to some successful women leaders from the world of advertising, broadcast, digital, brands and the universe; to understand how they overcame stereotypes at workplace.
Kavita Datta- CEO & Founder, Aakhya India
As I look back, my journey as a young professional was riddled with numerous stereotypes- many I had the ability to fight or confront, but many, many others I did not. In my 35 years of working in both public and private sectors, I have fought stereotypes in various contexts by working harder and being stronger.
I have often had to battle between my two choices of either speaking my mind, or “letting it go”- realizing much later, that both choices were conditioned, and almost always a product of my working environment.
Today, as I run my own organisation, I am very cognizant of what challenges my young team members face, and from the very beginning, I have strived towards building an organization where women feel safe, women are heard, and women have enough agency to stand up for what they believe in.
So, this Women’s Day, let’s work together to empower women around us, build robust support systems with them, for them, and respect their choices as they navigate their way through dynamic personal and professional spheres.
Evonne Eadie – Reserve Brand Ambassador, Diageo India
One area in the alco-bev and hospitality industry that is of particular significance is the breakdown of gender and class norms and the growing focus on equality. With the decrease in labelling drinks for specific genders and increasing numbers of influential women in brand training, bartending as well as in distillation and production, the industry is finally moving towards being more inclusive.
For example, Whisky was and quite often still is seen as a “man’s drink”, too strong for women. Personally, I take extra glee in introducing women to the wonders of whisky. Often when they say they don’t like it, they just haven’t met the right whisky yet. With a little investigating I can quickly find one they would enjoy and educate them on how to select their ideal whisky in future. It won’t be long until we have evened up the perception of who should be drinking whisky. The correct answer to that is anyone and everyone. Provided they are of legal drinking age of course.
Dipanwita Chhabra & Geeta Rao, co-founders, GlossnGlass Makeup Academy & Salon
The makeup industry is packed with stereotypes as it’s connected to the fashion and wedding industry. To break the barriers and move ahead can be challenging at times. Especially as female entrepreneurs, the stereotypes multiply manifold! The best way to overcome any stereotypes in the industry is to let your work do the talking. You HAVE to follow the blueprint that you have drawn up for yourself and your business and keep working on it day and night, albeit of what anyone keeps talking.
Don’t go back into the shadows and keep working quietly in the dark. Identify your female leadership strengths and let the world know. The goal here is to be proud of your strengths and work instead of shunning them. That’s how you can overcome challenges by showing the world how wrong they were. The second thing that we tend to forget is that we need to keep working on the stereotypes we have formed about ourselves and the people around us. Unconscious biases, which we learn from a young age, continue to shape our behaviour and choices in ways that we don’t even realize. Unless we tackle the problem within ourselves, however small it is, generation after generation of women will remain trapped in the same cycle. So ladies, let’s work on it in every step of the way!
Chaithanya Kenchammanahoskote, Founder, Maya Medi Spa
Too many people still don’t take women professionals seriously let alone women entrepreneurs. Financial support is one of the biggest barriers when a woman wants to start a business, in any field. Women start businesses that seem cute on the surface, but that’s when you should be really afraid. What we’re doing is really meaningful. People question our family responsibilities and try to make us understand that post having kids; our family should be our first and only priority. But providing a good stable life is also our responsibility, not just the man of the house. I was fortunate enough to have my husband believe in me, invest in my business and my biggest cheerleader in all of it I have created a meaningful business where we take care of your skin inside and out. Game on and Go big is how I have overcome the stereotypes.
PavithraRao, Co-founder, WaterScience
Stereotypes or biases exist in every industry- they could be harmless or vicious. However, most people are reasonable and if they see enough evidence to the contrary, they will be open to changing their mind about a particular belief that they have been holding. By being professional and exceeding their expectations is the only way to change people’s mindsets. With time, however, simply by seeing the number of women do well across sectors and roles, these stereotypes should completely disappear. Thats the hope!
But as an entrepreneur in a field dominated by men, it is difficult to make a stand and have our opinions voiced but thanks to progressive men and my supportive team, I haven’t faced major stereotypes in my role and my field. But there will always be that one voice which will question the presence of a women in a tech related field.
Chanda Singh, Co-founder, XP&D
We strongly believe in giving equal opportunities to everyone and one way we have chosen to follow this is by not blindly adhering to industry norms, and creating our own space. From the work culture, to our hiring practices, to defining our own standards of success and failure, we have been able to not let the industry stereotypes undermine our visions and beliefs.
The industry is defined by the people and vice-versa, so we hope that the many small changes we are incorporating at work, and in our work-lives, will be able to have considerable impact in the future of the industry.
Ruchi Garg, CEO, Co-founder of Venuelook
Over the past decade, women have made enormous strides in resolving workplace inequality issues. The principal root of the problem lies in outdated stereotypes. There are few things that have helped me conquer gender stereotypes in my career Firstly Be proud of your strengths despite your gender, always try to be an exemplary employee/leader which will get you noticed. Identify your strengths as a female employee/leader and be proud of them!
Remember, the objective is to be PROUD of the strengths that you carry as a woman, rather than focusing on your weaknesses and trying to be like a man. Build upon your strengths and keep going. A woman who speaks her mind and questions others’ perspective is valued by people. People want to hear your voice because you have qualities that are different from them and offer the team a different point of view.
Aishwarya SawarnaNir, Founder, Global Beauty Secrets
According to me one of the most prevalent stereotypes of the beauty industry is that beauty as a business itself is not taken seriously – often confused with frivolous indulgence for women to look good, however with onset of organized retail and brands this is slowly yet steadily being challenged and changed. As a founder of a beauty brand personally I try to adhere to credible product based solutions not just for looking good but for overall wellness of anyone who seeks to experience our brand. In present times, one can simply not take their wellness inside out lightly and I am glad as an industry we are offering good solutions to the consumer to cater to their aspirations on holistic beauty.
Niki Singh, Vice President Strategy, GenY Medium
Early in my career as an Event Director, I faced discrimination at different levels due to gender stereotyping. Vendors were used to working with production crew – typical male-dominated field but I would regularly show up- usually the only female on setups and take charge. I made my space by letting my work talk for myself. Many of the events that I worked on won prestigious awards at the national and international levels. My learning was not to internalize others’ stereotypical views about me that hindered me from putting my best foot forward. I follow this to date.
Being in a leadership position today, I use my privilege to facilitate and encourage conversation, take action and lead by example. Over the years I have also learned to identify workplaces and people (and hold on to them) that are willing to go beyond stereotypes of gender, years of experience, etc. and evaluate you purely on merit. At GenY Medium, (my current organization) we are working towards building an inclusive space that is why we have women in the tech & the analytics team as well- typically considered a male-dominated field. It is also no wonder that our Bangalore and Delhi offices are also led by women. Leading by example is the best way to overcome stereotypes.
Dr.Priyank Reddy, Dermatologist and cosmetologist and Founder of DNA Skin Clinic, Bangalore
Unfortunately, even today, gender discrimination is alive in the healthcare industry. In order to overcome stereotypes, the first step is to stop believing that you can be stereotyped. Fight your inner insecurities and believe you are an equal. Seek for greatness in your work. Become an inspiration for all the women in your industry. Support each other through mentoring and conducting educational programs.