There aren’t many women around, both among the student body and the faculty in Indian Universities and the truth is that while the field boasts a host of talent geniuses, many of them are men. “You think that you are gender-blind, but in reality, one begins to internalize the highly unequal world of the economics profession. Reality kicks hardest when, as a young economics faculty, you choose to also become a mother,” writes Shamika Ravi, research director, Brookings India.
We need to equalize all the costs (explicit and implicit) for men and women
“If you can see it, you can be it,” is something that is crucial in the economics field and hence, it is vital women have female mentors as well as male, because they encourage up and coming women to be determined no matter what the obstacle. Women like Ravi had to put up a massive fight and it was something she had to face every day of her life because of the lack of support. “I think this is why most female economists at the top are battle-hardened (given the survivor bias!). I firmly believe that we need many more women in the field of economics — but this will only begin to happen when we equalize all the costs (explicit and implicit) for men and women in the profession,” she adds. As someone who has been working as a professor in the Indian School of Business for the last 15 years, she ensures that she encourages all her students to participate in the room and speak up, particularly the young women. She sees it as an early leadership training session.
Indian women need to have a good economic sense and financial independence to stand on their own feet
Economics is something that affects both men and women, however, men have been the ones calling the shots for generations and much of the economic policies have been shown to benefit men in India rather than women. On the other hand, study after study has shown that when Indian women have a good economic sense and the financial independence to stand on their own feet, not only do they become empowered but they also reap benefits with regards to their health and their wellbeing of their children. “My own research shows that female borrowers are more empowered in their health-seeking behavior than other women in similar conditions. There is also research which shows the strong demonstration effect that working women have on the school retention rate of girl students,” writes Ravi. However, the reality is that Indian women aren’t equal partners with men in the growth of India and tapping into the economic potential of women is something that is being sidelined. Whether it’s women missing in the gender ratio of India or them missing from participating in the workforce, all of these are having a negative effect on the Indian economy at large, whether people agree or disagree.
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