Chennai

Charm of roads less travelled

When it came to career choices, the city had very less to offer women a few years ago. But, braving odds, some women took roads less travelled, inspiring many others to follow suit.

Now, it is not unusual to find many women foraying into careers that were conventionally male bastion. Their passion for their jobs and urge to prove themselves in non-traditional professions have helped them sustain in the challenging environment.

Women have gained entry into almost all careers that were hitherto termed as tough ones. From drivers, petrol pump attendants, film directors to chefs and marine engineers, there is a long list of new careers that have welcomed women with open hands. Many of them who faced scorn and resistance from male colleagues initially are now marvelled for their diligence and talent.

S. Rukmani, an autorickshaw driver, said she chose the profession after her husband fell sick, for its convenient timing and remuneration.

“It is often stressful to drive in the city traffic. Some of my male colleagues call me ‘devil’ because I drive fast on a par with them and work hard,” she said.

Women drivers are preferred by many passengers for their safer driving skills. Another autorickshaw driver, B.Pramila Devi, was inspired by her father. “I have been entrusted with the job to drive around two girl children. My employer’s confidence has encouraged me,” she said.

Many women have not allowed constraints associated with long working hours and physical strain to dissuade them.

Priya Leemarose, a demi chef de partie, assisting the bakery chef in a star hotel, said she was the only woman in the kitchen when she joined six years ago.

“The job demands lifting heavy vessels and cooking for even 1,000 people. I sometimes have to work 14 hours. I overcame doubts about my capability and took chidings as challenge to grow in this profession,” she said.

Spending several months away from home and often being the only woman officer onboard have not deterred marine engineer Babita Tomar to pursue her dream job. “It was difficult initially to adapt to new environment and people from different countries. This profession has taught me to be tough,” she said.

She was trained as dual cadet, both as deck officer and engineer. “I am in charge of navigating the ship, making voyage plans and maintaining machineries. I work on engines that are of size of a five-storey building,” Ms.Tomar said.

Family support plays a pivotal role for women to balance career and home, said film director Nandhini J.S. Earlier women assistant directors were not preferred, doubting their commitment and delicate nature.

“People assumed that we would either make soft movies or feministic ones. They now respect women for their talent and the gender differentiation has reduced a great deal,” she said.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 3:33:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/charm-of-roads-less-travelled/article123951.ece

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