Abstract: This paper discusses five phases of evolution of the Indian women’s role in management, spanning five decades of 20th century and their transition into the new millennium. The first phase represented tentative beginnings, where women entered the workplace the second where they struggled to break through the invisible barriers of promotions and senior positions, the third phase where the women competed for careers and opportunities in the organisation, the fourth phase where the organisation and the society saw the evolution of a mature career person, with ambitions and aspirations matching their male counterparts and the fifth phase saw the confident and well anchored women of the new millennium.
Keywords: women in management, women’s development, formal work organisation, infrastructural service roles, women’s career orientation, social structures roles, women’s stereotype, women’s myth about women, women’s management skills, women’s professional orientation, leadership organisation culture
Women have journeyed a long distance to enter the corporate boardrooms, to take leadership roles in organisations and institutions and work as managers and employees across levels of hierarchies in the organisation. However, when we look around it is also true that nothing has changed for millions of women across the country where they live with the baggage of past traditions and are shackled to the traditional role definitions which are compulsive and oppressive and which give them no space to be themselves.
It seems that the more the efforts to openness and humanisation is attempted there is an equally intense pull to rigidity of old structures, oppression, terrorisation and dehumanisation. Both men and women experience these pushes and pulls. Some have the courage, convictions and support from individuals and systems to redefine and redesign their roles and life space, while many others crumble and surrender their lives to the obsolete and decadent norms of family and society. In the context of these transformations, women seem to pay a harsher price.
India is a country where simultaneously juxtaposed is the ancient and the new, the traditional and the modern, the agrarian and the technological, the rural and the urban, and the east and the west. The living reality of these juxtapositions is experienced in all spheres of life. From bullock and camel carts as a means of convenience and transportation to two-wheelers, cars and planes, from farming being carried out with ploughs pulled by men and animals to mechanised tractors and farm equipments and from women living in purdah covering their faces from the eyes of men to women working in corporate offices in ultramodern garbs taking major business decisions. This transition, both social and technological confronts women across the country to take new roles and to walk new paths. This has also led to a large number of women entering the world of management.
For the past half a century and more, women in India have been moving along a new path. It was a path not visualised before either by the society or the designers of a code of conduct. They too were new on this path. The country had arrived at that crossroad where thousands of years of the past would have to be relegated as the heritage and history and new beginnings would have to be made. The human history and role of men and women, institution of family and relationships, parenting and authority would have to be redefined and redesigned. The dawn of a new era had begun.
Last century has witnessed Indian women enter new spheres of life. From being daughters, wives and mothers they entered educational and health institutions. They became teachers and nurses. Came the freedom movement and women in large numbers joined the struggle. Came time for building the nation – women joined the educational institutions and entered the fields of medicine, law, science, industry and finally made inroads into the field of management in formal work and industrial organisations.
According to a UNIDO report the entry of women in industry in Asia between 1960-1980 rose to 104%. The Indian experience of women in management suggests that large number of educated and professionally trained women enter organisations ranging from family owned, private, public, government, and multi-nationals. Women in management are an integral part of banking, financial institutions and other service organisations. (Vaz 14-18)
Entry of women in management confronts women with a role, which is different from the one that existed before. Women like men leave their home equipped with capabilities, competence and skills for a job in organisations. Once in the management, the women take decisions. They relate to superiors, subordinates and colleagues and are holders of significant responsibilities. Organisations employing women have to deal with issues of promotion, competition, task allocation and stereotypes about women colleagues.
The voices of these women, who carry the Indian heritage, culture, social structures and norms, women’s role and prescriptions give a clue as to the women’s psyche today. One wonders that India as a nation undergoing dramatic transition demands transformation of roles in both men and women, that those deeply embedded processes in the psyche of women which freezes their action and responsiveness from their being and it compels them to those choices idealised and glorified by the society which denies them the basic human dignity.
The transition in the above social context was encountered in the society with emphasis on formally educating women. The opportunities of education shattered many myths about women and as such brought in new dimensions in the social context. The education, achievement and success highlighted the fact that women are as intelligent, achievement-oriented and capable of success. Education also opened up new horizons of career opportunities for women. Women entered the world of work, acquired the capability of economic resource generation and as such incurred the wrath and respect of relatives around. This economic autonomy facilitated in contributing to the parental security. When the sons left home, got married, went abroad or simply neglected the parents as unwanted, undesirable burdens, the daughters rose to the occasion and provided both economic and emotional security to the parents.
Education prepared the women to manage the external interface of the environment. From largely relational, social and home focus, the women were required to manage new interfaces–the day to day running of the home, educating the children, travelling distances and to distant lands, urban and semi urban living, interface with people both men and women other than socially or family related. Education provides the world of knowledge, logical and rational approach to thinking, sensing a new horizon and possibilities of experiencing oneself in different roles than the ones postulated by prescribed society. This gradual awakening confronts the women with encounters of four generations of men and women:
• The generation of grandfather and grandmother both paternal and maternal.
• The parental generation, father and mother, father-in- law and mother-in-law.
• Herself, her brothers and sisters – friends.
• Her husband, children both male and female [Parikh & Garg, 1986].
The value dilemmas across each generation are based on continuities and discontinuities of the culture, its traditional ideal roles and diametric shifts in the environment, demanding transformations from both men and women. Today’s generation experiences largely the new environment and makes demands on the parental generations. The grandparents and parents entrenched in their traditional roles, make demands on the current adult generations, leaving little space for them to either experience the privileges of the traditional roles or freedom of the new emerging roles. Their entry into occupational roles creates responsibilities and partnerships, which provides security and autonomy but also the isolation of being strong, self-contained and self-reliant. The woman’s vulnerabilities have no space. She is assumed to be capable of managing her life space once she chooses to do a job.
Exploring how the woman of today has traveled a long way and has created a niche for herself both at the home front and at the workplace, we examine the space she has created for herself in the socio-cultural context, and how she has managed the new role and given shape to new patterns of identity to meet the challenges in the new millennium [Parikh, 1990 and Bhatnagar &Swamy, 1995].
Phase I: Women in the Fifties
The women of the fifties fall into two categories. Two sets of women entered the organisations for distinct reasons. One set took up jobs exclusively for economic and monetary reasons. These women were educated and the family required the resources. The second set belonged to business and professionally oriented families. The women were educated, were not compelled to do household chores, were intelligent and capable and wanted to utilise their education and time in purposive activities. Some women entered formal work organisation or business due to the loss or death of a family member and these women took on the role of income generation and home responsibilities. A large number of these women took on marginal and infrastructural service roles. In their attitudes they brought the baggage of social structures, roles and relational processes. The organisations and the men too related with the women locating them in social structures and social role expectations. These women, men and organisations focused on the job but also related with each other in traditional social roles.
In the initial phases of industrial and technological growth and setting up of large complex organisations, the roles women took in management were marginal and infrastructural service roles. The beliefs that existed were:
• Women who entered the organisations were educated and were waiting for marriage.
• Those married and not in need of money entered work to keep themselves occupied to make good use of their education and time till they had children.
• Those who were in need of money, once married will give up their jobs in the organisation or at best when the children arrived.
• Those in need of money even after marriage will continue to work and be grateful for having a job and a steady income.
These pioneer women were the first entrants in the Indian workplace. They discovered that work provided a meaning to their life and highlighted a new facet in their personality. This newfound personal meaning created anxiety in the social system. The first generation working women were forging a new role and a space for themselves and were also charting a path for women of future generations.
Phase II: Women in the Sixties and Seventies
By the mid sixties women in significant numbers had entered the portals of formal education both at the primary and higher levels. In the realm of work, women opened up new frontiers.
In this phase of history and the movement of the country education provided increased knowledge base for both men and women and the organisations experienced unprecedented growth opportunities. This led to a faster pace of movement in the career paths of employees. Some of the new realities of women in management in India in phase two of their career path reflect the following patterns:
• Women regarded work as an integral aspect of their life space.
• Income generation and a career choice were equally significant.
• Educated and qualified women aspired for a different role and life vis-à-vis their mothers and grandmothers.
• The women wanted homes, marriage and children as well as a career.
• The women accepted the social traditional role behavior from the older generation but from their husbands, colleagues and children they expected understanding and support in their career paths. They looked for redefinition of roles and redesigning of systems.
• In managerial roles the women were willing to carry their share of the work responsibilities but also wanted participation in policy formulation and decision making. They wanted their voices to be heard as stakeholders and managers of the company.
In essence, the generation of women who entered management sought jobs and careers, which gave significant meaning to their lives. Work was significant in itself. Moreover, working women had acquired an immense significance in the social system. In the social setup, a job was a life-time income generation, and an insurance against maltreatment or mistreatment by the in-laws. A job had also become a means of respect and had proved its potentials of giving them autonomy and self-reliance. The income also added to the social status and a quality of life style in the extended family.
A significant number of women from the fifties and sixties graduated from junior level and entered middle level of management. Highly qualified postgraduate women entering the organisation directly at responsible management positions further reinforced the female contingent at middle management organisational levels. These women were equipped with management knowledge, skills, tools and techniques.
This new space and new role broke many social stereotypes and myths about women and what they could or could not do. Many were reluctant to accept their arrival, location and space in the organisation. Women in senior professional positions resulted in the dilution of gender stereotypes and myths about what women could achieve. There was a sea change at the organisational level from skepticism about working women to acceptance of their rightful location and space in the corporate world.
Phase III: Women in the Eighties
This was the era of professionals and professionalism. Women of fifties, sixties and seventies had accepted both their social and work roles. They played the social role in the traditional mode and to some extent carried that to the organisation. They rode two horses and kept the spaces separate. . For women, work and working in an organisation were necessary but for a large sector of women in management, marriage was equally important and so was motherhood and social relations. The women of the eighties attempted to bridge this dichotomy and to lead wholesome rather than fragmented lives. They attempted to broaden their personal vision to encompass both career goals and familial relationships. The women of the eighties had invested in themselves, designed a role and life space where they could manage their home and work interfaces and respond to the challenges and opportunities in the formal work organisation.
A major difficulty for women of the eighties has been the dilemma of either or choices. When women have moved from the location of a job orientation to a career orientation they believed that their social roles and systems and existing relationships have to be sacrificed. They have postulated and very often rightly so, that the social systems, role and relationships, anchored in traditional culture becomes a barrier and constraint to their growth in career and making choices in the organisation. Confronted with this either or, many women opted for limited job orientation and remained rooted in social systems, roles and relationships.
Women who chose the career paths believed that choice of a career meant sacrificing a part of themselves and their identify. They either had troubled marriages or experienced upheavals in their personal lives and roles of wife and mother. They anchored themselves in their organisation and work. This choice also left the women feeling denied and deprived of their multiplicity. They overloaded the organisations for their search for meaning and fulfillment [Parikh, 1990].
Phase IV: Women in the Nineties
The women of the nineties emerged as a qualitatively different breed. The upbringing and education of women in the nineties have been different from what it was for women of the prior generation. Women in the nineties increasingly have role models anchored in their own gender – mothers, aunts and teachers who themselves have had successful careers and who inspired the young women of the day to take up new challenges, explore new vistas, find fulfillment and compete and work with men in any assignment. The generation of women growing up in the nineties has also had support from the males in the family, i.e., the fathers as well as other males in the primary system. This attitude of openness has facilitated women both at the social as well as work settings. These men have provided equal opportunities for both men and women and logically and rationally accepted career planning and growth for women. The daughters are encouraged to stand on their own two feet and be financially sufficient, and only then get married. Financial independence generates self-reliance and autonomy as well as equality in status. The men who have nurtured the women for such autonomy are mature, largely professional and have also accepted women as their equals. These men have opted to choose a capable, confident and an intelligent woman as a life partner, and accepted that women require their own spaces and pace for growth and unfolding. This does not mean to convey that women have successfully overcome the socio cultural inhibition and barriers, which are so deeply embedded. This statement only reflects that a transition and a transformation are occurring in the Indian families, more so in the urban centers of India [Parikh & Engineer, 2002].
Women of the nineties have performed exceedingly well in the organisations; they came through as determined, assertive and committed to work. They are also experienced as developing better relationships with their colleagues and add to the overall collectivity of the organisation. In addition, the women are described as having inherent qualities of management such as patience, tolerance, honesty, loyalty and communication skills. Essentially, the women of nineties have created niches of their own and are ready to perform the multiple roles of mother, wife and executive, thus earning space for themselves in family, society and workplace.
Phase V: The New Millennium
As the women are fortunate to live in the new millennium, the convenience of tele-commuting and flexi-time is a facilitator. With the advent of information technology, and the Internet, and the concept of virtual classrooms, women of today have nothing to lose, but gain, learn, unlearn and update themselves in the information age. They can use the opportunities for freelance assignments and succeed with full satisfaction of bridging the gap between the home and work place. She is able to make new choices with ease and confidence as she feels anchored in herself with increased maturity and location in spaces.
As always, change has not been easy but the fact that Indian women now occupy positions and rightful place in the corporate world bears testimony to their fortitude, patience and courage. The paper also explores the women’s role in the new millennium having traveled a long distance. Women in management now need not be the rebels of the past, but can enjoy lifestyles that do justice to both home and work. Flexible corporate structures and norms, enabling technologies and liberalised societal expectations will facilitate women to climb the upper rungs of the corporate ladder without necessarily sacrificing their femininity and role of motherhood.
Organisational Context and Women in Management
In the initial phases of growth of the organisations in India there is little or no differentiation between social structures of the Indian family system and formal work structures of the organisation. Emphasis is on loyalty, obedience and conformity. Management has inbuilt tolerance for invisible waste. In this phase of growth, women’s entry and acceptance in management was limited to routinised jobs. They remain in marginal or socially visible roles and cater to infrastructural service roles. Women were relegated to junior management positions and like the roles in the social system were expected to provide stability and dependability. Climbing the corporate ladder was nearly impossible or a very difficult task.
As organisations grew and acquired more formal task-based structures and systems their attitudes, expectations, modes of performance, evaluation and appraisal also changed. Environmental and market competition led to demands for excellence in performance and a shift away from social modes of relating and working. Women too equipped with education, competence and capabilities entered organisations in large numbers. They performed, brought results and proved themselves task worthy. Women and men witnessed the emergence of a career woman in formal work organisation. Women in management then confronted organisations with issues of task allocation, evaluation and promotion, authority, relationship with superiors, subordinates and colleagues and the quality of membership available in the organisation.
For a long time women in management were given desk jobs. The issues were raised whether women could be allocated frequent tours, authority of decision-making, and tasks related to dealing with blue-collar workers and industrial relations. Several studies carried out reflect the following issues of tasks vis-à-vis women in management [Parikh & Garg, 1987]:
• Women in senior management positions have conceptual clarity about job link and corporate responsibility. Women also have an understanding of policies and its linkage with the market conditions. However, both women and organisations find it difficult to include and give corporate responsibility to women. Women themselves want to be included in matters of policy, strategy, structures and tasks. The findings also suggest that organisation hierarchy tends to over-supervise and control women in management compared to men.
• Women in middle and senior positions of management reflect taking up exclusive responsibility to prove them capable and competent. Men with similar scores reflect roles of being Atlas and Hercules while women reflect patterns of victimisation and martyrdom.
• Women in management with focus on job orientation find it difficult to accept link and corporate responsibility as legitimate part of their role. They attribute this to the organisation structure or to the superior. Women focused on job responsibility attribute to the organisation-centralised structure, decision-making and demands for loyalty, obedience and conformity. Organisationally, women believe that they are required to do the assigned jobs with rules, regulations, and procedures and by following the laid down norms. The women believe that they cannot use their discretion, or exercise legitimate task authority but their security lies in doing the routine tasks.
Authority and Women in Management
The concept of authority as held by women has direct implications to women’s role in management. Studies [Parikh, 1990] suggest that women in management find it difficult to exercise authority over male subordinates. Often they are uncomfortable, coy, touchy, rigid, persuasive, or nurturing, pleading or cajoling. Women with job orientation often exercise authority through the referred authority of the boss or turn aggressive. Very often the women identify with a significant and visible authority at the top reflecting a good father, patron or a male support. Women often experience authority as controlling, demanding surrender and conformity. This process is often a direct transfer of social authority in roles of management. Essentially, the women with job orientation carry deeply embedded structure, roles and processes of social authority to their roles in management.
Women with career orientation and to some extent women with professional orientation are caught with dilemmas of relating with authority. In the Indian cultural context, there are processes whereby men can defy, rebel or become exiles from systems but for women it becomes issue of legitimacy. Women who are struggling with the issue of legitimacy as distinct from the right of being in organisations and of equality continue to have dilemmas in relating with authority. At some level women seek recognition and affirmation from the significant authority for the contribution they make to the organisation and similarly affirmation from the family setting for their achievements. It is very few women who have emotionally experienced the legitimacy of their being in organisation and in managerial positions. These are the women who have contributed to the creation of new cultures and traditions and it is in those systems there is realistic appraisal of what woman can and cannot do. Lot of myths about women get shattered in organisations and new images of women in management appear.
Evaluation and Promotion of Women in Management
Indian organisation largely reflects policies of promotion based on seniority. It generates a belief that merit and hard work do not necessarily result in congruent rewards. Often managers feel that social skill rather than performance is the criteria for promotion. In this organisation context, issue of promotion regarding women in management very often gets related to the nature of tasks for which women are seen fit. In India promotions imply transfers. Promoting women through transfers meant either women leaving jobs, letting go their promotion or breaking up their homes or establishing two households. In terms of evaluation, women in management are under severe scrutiny. Women experience being bypassed even if they display equal talents, performance and potentials similar to the male colleagues. For women themselves, any step forward implies a critical choice in terms of distribution of time and priorities.
Women who are job oriented tend to seek affirmation and approval before hey act. This is a carryover from a social system where women do not wish to be accused of doing wrong and also do what is obviously right. Women in management with job orientation tend to reflect low self worth and adequacy. Their worth and value come from approval and affirmation of their behavior or performance. The women in this stance, attempt always to be right, appropriate and perfect. They take less risk. They tend to be certain and then act on behalf of their superiors.
Women who are career oriented can take charge of the task responsibilities. Although the processes of evaluation and promotion generates feelings of subjectivity and often organisational reflect processes of discrimination and comparison, women with career orientation can reasonably assess themselves through performance and merit. The women with career orientation have acquired a logical rational approach to deal with task and organisational situations. They have acquired a framework of policy and systematic norms. As such, on the issues of promotion or rewards their own self worth do not get diminished when they face discrimination. The women in this category tend to seek affirmation from the system for their contribution.
Women with professional orientation tend to have high self-respect and value their own competence, capabilities and intelligence. They, by their excellence in performance, command merit-based evaluation and promotions. Organisations reluctantly or through concrete evidence and occasionally through appreciation accept their performance.
Essentially, all three patterns of evaluation, policies of promotion and the patterns of orientation in women exist in the Indian scene. There are more and more women who come through as performers and as such influence in changing some beliefs and myths about women in management and as such influence processes of evaluation.
Relationship with Superiors, Colleagues and Subordinates of Women in Management
One of the most critical and central issues confronting women in management is their relationship in the organisation. It revolves around relating with superiors, colleagues and subordinates at task levels. When it comes to making demands for tasks or exercising authority, it is most difficult for women to do so with male superiors or colleagues. With subordinates it is only those women with career or professional orientation who can either make demands or exercise authority for tasks. The response of male subordinates with women superiors also tends to be varied. Men who are largely anchored in social processes find it difficult to accept women authority. When this attitude is combined with women also anchored in social processes of relationship it adds to the difficulty. Essentially, for women in management the issue revolves around redefining and redesigning relationships around task and functions. In the Indian scenario age, belonging and competence combined together creates a mixed context for relating in formal work organisations.
Like the authority in the area of relationship, women with job career or professional orientation reflect different patterns. The social structures play a significant role and it is with much effort that women can design new ways of relating with male superiors, colleagues and subordinates. Interdependence of task with colleagues generates in women fear of control and anxiety of exploitation or comparison. Organisationally, women expect new ways of relating but find it difficult to make a new response. It is in these areas that women acquire skills and clarity [Parikh & Engineer, 2002].
Women and Membership
Large numbers of women in management live by their employee status. To experience their membership and representative role is closely linked to women accepting legitimacy of their role in the organisation. Women, oriented to job focus remain employees and withhold their organisational and systematic membership. Research findings [Parikh, 1990] suggest that women attribute the organisation as belonging to others. As such the organisation space belongs to some postulated significant people and the women give up their privileges. As such they can neither demand nor command. They can only prove their worth by constant performance. This inhibits a realistic appraisal of their membership. When women do not experience their membership or the space, it inhibits their creativity, deployment of their resources and they tend to search for fail-safe systems or non-exploitative supportive relationships.
Essentially, women in junior and middle management find it difficult to accept that organisation space legitimately belongs to them as well. They take job responsibility but fail to take link and corporate responsibility. They find it difficult to initiate action for the system but are capable to do the assigned tasks. Once they experience legitimacy from the system they become performers. Women who can accept their representative membership status can demand support, seek infrastructures for themselves and accept equality and partnership in the organisation.
To summarise, just as there is transition from social structures to formal work structures, there is a change and transition in women’s role in management. Organisation has recognised that performance between men and women is not based on gender [Parikh, 1990]. Professionally-oriented women and men managers are defining and designing new roles for themselves relevant for today’s organisations and management. These women and men managers integrate their professional management roles in complex tasks of the organisation and their traditional roles brought from the family systems. They integrate both the work and social structures and their roles in the context of a larger life space.
• Women are not mobile
• Women cannot travel in all places and do real field level operations or work
• Women can only do routine jobs
• Women need to constantly check and recheck with supervisors. They do not accept accountability or responsibility
• Women cannot leave home and children. Women are caught in the home-work interface
• Exclusivity of traditional social roles attributed to women
• What women can and cannot do at work
• Women entering management to provide the jam for the bread and butter provided by the man
• That women cannot take policy decisions and make strategic choices for organisations
• Complex technology and women do not go together [Parikh, 1990].
Another significant dimension, which the women in management encounter, is the organisation culture influenced by its leadership. The organisation culture reflects the philosophy, values, life-styles, concept of management and attitudes to relationships as held by leadership. If the organisation culture through its leadership has promoted the social cultural values, then social structures and culture influence attitudes to women entering the management positions. Organisation then gets founded on processes of discrimination and beliefs about what women can and cannot do. If the organisation structure promotes new values and realistic appraisal of women’s capabilities then the organisation values women’s role in management. It creates for fair and just induction, promotion, performance appraisal and reward systems.
A series of discussions and interviews with managers reflected that if the organisation is anchored in professional management then the process of recruitment of people, be they women or men, would largely depend on their attitude and skill for the job and their capability in management. The organisations, over a time have also discovered that there are some sectors, which women perform better than men, which are traditionally unconventional jobs for women. Organisations, which are, caught in the stereotype images of women and men then reinforce fragmentation, distantiation, and differentiation between women and men, which leads to decline in partnerships in tasks.
Organisation culture and context reflect the societal culture and context. Women in management experience these aspects. And depending upon where women anchor themselves, career of professionalism facilitates their growth, integration and role in management. It is the convergence of women and the organisation context, which releases the energy for both to give new directions, make new choices and create new cultures.
Like the country, the current scenario of women in management reflects a tremendous flux and transition. Women are entering management in increasingly large numbers. They come from all walks of life, diverse sectors of society, different educational qualifications and for immensely varied reasons. Every organisation in India that hires women will have a mix of all these women in management. The attitudinal scenario of women in management also reflects the stereotypes as held by both women and men in management. Working with women in management in many in-company training program suggests that formal education and entry into management makes women cognitively aware of managerial roles. However, effective organisation behavior may not occur [Parikh 1990]. The process of socialisation both at home and work reinforces the dilemma. Their own aspiration for economic autonomy pushes them to create new space, meanings and action choices.
The present scenario for women in management reflect the following themes:
• Women who are in key positions respond to the job, task and organisation requirements
• They accept challenging tasks
• If the task requires mobility and travel, they do travel
• Their professionalism lies in managing their time, space, roles and systems
• Professionalism has made women managers accept weekend and long distance travel as well as bringing up of children.
Women in management experience their diverse spectrum of relationships with people in formal work settings and ways of being managers and women. To say that this is the pattern of women in management in India reflects a partial reality from a segment of population and a limited perspective. In the current scenario of women in management with every change and new step taken by women and men of the old and the new and the past and the present, like a kaleidoscope, the scenario changes. The largeness of the country and its diversity and the process of flux and transition at one level make the organisation context and issues of women in management a dynamic setting in which changes are occurring. The larger the number of women and better their performance, the more the acceptability of women in management.
The Future Scenario
As industrialisation takes firm roots and organisations establish themselves with a professional orientation, women’s role in management will become a virtual reality. Women’s role in policy, strategy, partnership in corporate structure and processes and leadership has not only begun but will acquire a momentum. The future scenario for women in India is to walk an uphill path, to transcend the monolithic social structures, to create new processes in the culture, the organisation and the social systems. The women of the current millennium will influence the social structures and culture by presenting a new role of being a professional, a new kind of a daughter, wife and a mother – truly a homemaker and fostering a family.
Today after the dawn of the new millennium, women are at a crossroad and at the threshold of a new life. They are the children of a new generation and have the possibility to explore new frontiers within themselves and in the external environment. What choices do they make for themselves to realise their dreams and aspirations? The best alternative is for women to take a course of adventure and to search for their own identity. Rather than men, society or the system, women need to look within, re-discover themselves and become change agents for the society. Fortunately, many women of the 20th century have taken steps of adventure into the unknown and have achieved landmarks in their careers and in their lives. They have the courage of conviction to create new roles for themselves, to explore the meaning of their existence and to forge an integrated identity, which includes the multiple facets of social, and work roles. They have claimed their existential and psychological identity beyond the social roles.
The days to come offer a space beyond the present horizon— where, instead of hope there is active engagement with the world, instead of dreams there are commitments, instead of aspirations there are choices, instead of ideals there are convictions and instead of searching for bestowal’s and affirmation there is the acknowledgement of one’s own uniqueness of identity.
The women of today will discover the magic of enlivening themselves and say, “I have traveled thus far, there are further distances to go but there are also moments in the here and now where I can be myself and become whatever I aspire for.” In this statement the past, the present and the future will merge to create that space where movement and stability, where noise and silence, where light and darkness, where chaos and tranquility loose their absolutism to create a new rhythm and unfolding [Parikh & Engineer, 2002].
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