Enough has been spoken and written about gender issues of working women. Why not turn our attention to the women who have made a remarkable difference to their lives? Sunita Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Indra Nooyi to mention a few, carved a niche for themselves through hard work and commitment to realising their dreams. Similarly, like Mary Kom, there are women who are contributing to their family, the society and their field of specialisation. Women taxi/auto drivers, women assistants at gas station are all examples of women entering an earlier male domain.

No longer are women confined to their house, to cook and clean and fend for their family. The rising cost and demands within the family have encouraged women to supplement the household income. Women have stepped out of the threshold of a home maker to a bread winner and proved themselves capable of efficiently multitasking and finding a foot hold in an otherwise male dominated world. Organisations too have woken up to this fact and opened their doors for women for a good balance of the different perspectives brought in by men and women at the workplace. To encourage women to stick on to their jobs, companies are now offering various options like flexi-time, working from home, telecommuting, job sharing, support facilities for children like crèche and day care centre. Organisations also have good policies in place for long term maternity or medical leave. Other facilities like pick up and drop are boost for women. These are advantageous to women as they are in different stages of their life/career and faced with critical choices between work and home to be made. Such flexibility if offered by the organisations would help women to focus on their careers.

Although a long break could be a setback, ambitious and interested women could qualify themselves further during the hiatus, keep in touch with the organisation where they were previously employed, and aim at working towards better opportunities with higher pay.

The factors that would help women aspire for progression at the work place are higher education (adding to the qualifications), attaining higher level positions, and grasping entrepreneurship opportunities. Recent trends prove that women are taking to the challenge of pursuing higher education and professional degrees making them eligible for white collar jobs. Working on positions equal to men, women do not become male clones but bring in their special qualities at work. Unlike men, women tackle problems in a holistic way and understand the real situations accurately. This creates a new approach to the thinking and application process in an organisation. Research also indicates a steady increase in the number of women taking up higher positions globally.

Therefore qualified women are in demand at the workplace and getting the right breakthrough. But sustaining it lies totally in their hands!

Rekha Murali