“We were in conversation with a team member from the accounts department of one of the most prominent marketplaces in India, trying to check facts and figures. He and I were going to and fro over email, trying to arrive at a mutually agreed formula and format. Then he had the audacity to say on email, ‘There is no specific format and if you are qualified CA, you should know better than me how to do the reconciliation’,” revealed Nidhi Agarwal of Kaaryah to SheThePeople.TV about her rendezvous with mansplaining or manterpretation.
She added, “This is when my Head of Business Development (also a woman who means business – quite literally) jumped in to say “If there is any confusion, you better discuss that nicely”. And I backed it with “Please don’t cross your line! And for sure don’t forget you’re a professional… it’s unacceptable to disrespect KAARYAH’s CEO’s office.”
“I was in an internal strategy meeting doing a pitch and the only woman in the room of 8-10 men. While I was supposed to present, my male colleague kept on interrupting during the presentation — reiterating the same points I was making”- Sarika Bhattacharya of BD Foundation
Search Google for the definition of mansplaining, and you’ll get this, “(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”
Even as women are going places with organising and building companies, there is still a dearth of men who can come out of their alpha male shell and accept women as experts too. Imagine how demeaning it sounds when a CA who worked in MNCs and has an experience of over a decade-and-a-half in the field has to hear from a man trying to explain what she has been good at for such a long time. Frustrating, right?
Sarika Bhattacharya, founder of BD Foundation, also had an anecdote to share, “This was some 8 years ago during my banking career. I was in an internal strategy meeting doing a pitch and the only woman in the room of 8-10 men. While I was supposed to present, my male colleague kept on interrupting during the presentation — reiterating the same points I was making. The boss was also more inclined towards listening to him.”
However, Sarika did not leave it at that and put her foot down as she told her colleagues, “It’s great that you are such an amazing listener and reinforcing my points. After all, it’s not every day that I get such awesome group of forward looking professionals who listen to a woman’s point of view so attentively. Thank you for being a great audience.” She then walked out of the meeting.
This is a classic example of why we need more women in a board meeting. Firstly, it takes so much more confidence and passion for your work to be the only woman on a board. And then to be met with such behaviour as Sarika’s only makes it worse. And reports have claimed time and again that companies make better profit and more gender sensitized decisions when women are more involved in its functioning.
“After about 2 hours of brainstorming when we have neatly categorised each other’s responsibilities, he starts telling me how I must approach my side of the load — that is the design and creative parts. I heard out the gentleman who had a vast experience in operations tell me about how women’s workwear should be!”- Nazia Erum
Entrepreneur, Nazia Erum, who has founded her own brand of Indian workwear brand with The Luxury Label, shared her experience of mansplaining. She recollected, “I was having a very long session with a prospective business partner for The Luxury Label. We discussed the deck, variables, graphs and shares of each other’s workload. After about 2 hours of brainstorming when we have neatly categorised each other’s responsibilities, he starts telling me how I must approach my side of the load — that is the design and creative parts. I heard out the gentleman who had a vast experience in operations tell me about how women’s workwear should be!”
“He felt obliged to go into great lengths about women’s bodies and western influences on our dressing. It was absurd to hear him suddenly launch into this sermon, especially when he knew I had spoken at length about the conditioning of our sartorial choices in my TEDx talk. The icing on the cake and deal breaker was when he ended up asking me to ‘consult’ my hubby or father before signing the deal. I don’t need to spell out that there was no deal after that from my end!”
Many of us can resonate to Nazia’s situation as we are told to ‘consult’ the male members in the family to sign a deal. Nazia is running her own business. She knows what workwear she wants to deliver in the market. She has a broader understanding of what works with women and what not. She is better equipped to take decisions for ‘her own business’ and yet she was asked by a man to first check with her father or husband. These are just some instances that comprise manterpretation at workplace.
Everyone comes to work or start a company after they gain the necessary knowledge and understanding about the work they are going to be doing. Then how does gender becomes a core of who knows their job better? Today, as we are becoming aware of our rights and finding our voices, it is crucial to address this concern and take people for what they know about and not what gender they belong to.
Picture credit- Huffington Post
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