Why do girls like IITian men

U-shaped distribution

Many young Indian women have ambitious career goals and their role models have achieved a great deal in a variety of areas. Nevertheless, many wishes do not come true. Unemployment is more widespread among women than men in India's cities and there are few job opportunities in the countryside.

One autumn morning in New Delhi, women between the ages of 18 and 35 leave a hostel. Some go to the nearby universities, others rush to the subway station or try to catch an auto rickshaw to get to work on time.
The hostel, of which there are many in India's cities, is exclusively made up of women who are pursuing a career goal. It is new, but widespread, for young women to leave home for reasons other than marriage.

Yashika is one of the hostel residents in New Delhi. Her mother is a housewife and her father is a businessman in Hanumangarh, a small district in the neighboring state of Rajasthan. Yashika wanted to study art and saw no opportunities in Hanumangarh. She was able to persuade her parents to let her study at the Delhi Art School. Yashika doesn't yet know what she wants to do after graduation, but sees two options: “I will try to get a scholarship for further studies abroad. Or I work for some advertising agency in Mumbai. "

Shailesh also moved from the country to the city. Today she works as a scientist for the state weather service. “I'm currently working on the INSAT-3D meteorological project,” she says. She wants to write her doctoral thesis on this. After that, she would also like to leave India. Her dream is a job at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Yashika and Shailesh are among those young women with high professional goals. The question is whether they will achieve this. In some areas, things are actually looking good. For example, almost 12 percent of pilots in India today are women, compared to only 3 percent globally. Women are also at the forefront of India's major private and public banks. In science and technology, engineering and math, Indian companies employ more women than US companies.

These numbers are encouraging, but they only represent part of the real world. According to the international labor organization ILO, the Indian female employment rate is among the lowest in the world. In South Asia, India ranks only ahead of Pakistan and Afghanistan and thus ranks sixth out of eight. The ambitions of many women are apparently not taken into account. In fact, the unemployment rate among women academics living in the city is highest.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index shows that Indian women often quit their jobs mid-career due to the double burden. This is due to the fact that both men and women see family and household primarily as women's affairs. Mansi, 30, who lives in Kolkata, was an executive in an IT company but stopped working when her baby came. Many working couples have only one child today, but it is still common for the woman to stay at home.

Most young Indians - women and men - want to work and socialize these days. By 2020, the average Indian is expected to be 29 years old and live in the city. Around a third of the urban population is currently under 35 years of age. Even if the economy is weak around the world, international economists assume that India will do comparatively well. In recent years, growth has been around seven percent.

Growth usually means that more people are working - including women. But in India, between 2004 and 2010, the female employment rate fell from 33.3 to 26.5 percent in rural areas and from 17.8 to 14.6 percent in urban areas. According to the ILO, this is due, on the one hand, to the fact that more women enjoy education and, on the other hand, to increased incomes for men. At the same time, there is a lack of jobs for the more highly qualified. While this affects both genders, women are more likely to have difficulty finding a job.

Well-educated urban young people are moving into the formal sector. According to official figures, the unemployment rate for women between the ages of 15 and 59 is 16 percent - compared to just nine percent for men. It is therefore more difficult for women to find a decent job. The consulting firm Mercer International has found that young women make up 40 percent of young professionals in the formal sector, but only 20 percent are represented in middle management and 10 percent in the executive level.
On the other hand, thanks to the work of the government, the proportion of girls attending school has risen sharply in recent decades. This applies to both elementary and secondary schools. The number of children who do not even go to school fell by more than 90 percent. However, many girls still drop out of secondary school as teenagers, mainly because they have to take on household chores. In addition, the age at marriage is still quite low in both rural and urban areas. There are still 265 million illiterate adults in India, and more than two-thirds of them are women.

Sirisha C. Naidu, an economics professor at Wright State University in the US, says: "The female employment rate is mostly perceived as a U-shaped curve - it is high in countries with very low or very high development levels and low in countries with medium development levels."


Hardly any chances in the country

In emerging economies like India, which are moving from agricultural to industrial, more non-farm jobs for men mean household incomes rise and women are less forced to take low-paying jobs. Both men and women used to work in agriculture, but the increasing use of machines makes many workers redundant. Despite these developments, most women do not want to stay at home but rather earn money. However, they lack adequate job opportunities. This applies to both unskilled and well-educated women.

Some women move from the countryside to the city in search of work. There they work in the household, as cleaning women or shop assistants. These are mostly jobs in the informal sector that offer little security. However, most of the women in rural areas stay in the villages because city life is perceived as dangerous. They cannot find adequate work in the countryside. Prejudices play a major role here. Archana Pandey, who works for an NGO that trains young women for the labor market in Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest states in India, reports: “We have often seen men not allow their daughters, wives and daughters-in-law to visit their village for an education and then leave work. "

India needs to increase the proportion of women in the working population. Consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the country's gross domestic product could be 16 percent to 60 percent higher in 2025 if women participate in the economy as much as men. However, the challenges are enormous. Making public spaces and transportation safer for women is not enough - the entire male-dominated society must change the way it thinks.


Roli Mahajan is a journalist and lives in New Delhi. [email protected]