Why Can’t We Have it all ?



In the recent times a lot of emphasis has been laid on women empowerment. The concept of equality of sexes has attained a new meaning. And women are breaking the glass ceiling like never before. It is an undeniable fact that education plays a pivotal role and is instrumental in empowering women.

But, does education and qualification enable you to go out there and put your best foot forward? Well, not always. Of late, there has been a rapid increase in the tribe of women who are educated, who have a certain number of work experience under their kitty and yet they are unemployed.

Why would someone who has studied hard and possess degrees and experience which makes you employable, not work? As Indra Nooyi had once famously quoted that for women, the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict. So, owing to this, most women after experiencing motherhood choose to take a hiatus from their professional life. The reasons are numerous. They range from lack of a close kin to look after the child, unwillingness to take the services of a crèche or daycare and so on. But, the crux is that women want to be with their children, especially in the early years and watch them grow closely. Here I would like to add on that I am in no way belittling or deriding working mothers. But, I am making an endeavour to get a grip over the issue as to why qualified women bid adieu to a professional life.

Now, the thing which baffles me the most is that why we as women have to make this difficult choice in the first place? Why at some point do we have to take a call of either being a stay at home mom or a working mom?

As a mother to a six year old, I can completely understand why women would not think twice about leaving their careers to be with the child as I have been there myself. And, I had no pressure whatsoever to stop working, but I took a call as I felt it the right thing for me to do at that point of time. But, now, that my child is a little independent and is away at school for longer hours, I felt I could get back to work. As, I equipped myself to join the workforce again, I was pleasantly surprised that I was still employable but it was also equally disheartening to discover that most companies failed to offer flexible working hours.

I had to let go of a host of opportunities wherein I could work with some of the most reputed organizations but I could not come onboard owing to the fact that they fell into the category of full time jobs. Then, recently, I was offered a job at a firm which was into training and development. I was initially told that there would be flexibility and it being the work profile of a content manager/editor , I did not see any reason for  the ‘flexi hours’ or ‘part time’ work structure to be of any hindrance. But, after undertaking the required tests and proving my mettle, I was told that they have a strict nine hour work culture. I was miffed, to say the least as this was not the first time that this happened to me.

The reason I want to say this out loud is that I am sure that it happens with many more women who are sailing in the same boat.

Today, a myriad of initiatives have been taken so that women come back to work after a break. Some of them are praiseworthy and have contributed tremendously in turning around the career graphs of women. But, unfortunately, though there are companies who are coming forward and have hired women returnees, when it comes to young mothers, there are hardly any policies in place. Most importantly, the concept of ‘work from home’ and ‘flexible work hours’ is still frowned upon in most organizations. These organizations are set in their work structure and do not bend it even if women are ready to compromise significantly on the remuneration part.

Women returnee programmes are uplifting but have you wondered that after a break of say six to seven years not all women would have the courage and confidence to re enter the competitive job market. So, would it not make sense if we make our jobs more flexible( at least some of them as certain job profiles indispensably require more time and cannot be performed virtually) so that women do not flee the job market in the first place.

Family has always been an important unit in any culture. For a family to function smoothly, we need both parents to contribute both on the personal and professional front. If we do not value our women folk, we will lose out a breed of intelligent and conscientious individuals who can bring a lot to the table which will in turn benefit the organization and balance the entire social milieu.

But I am hopeful that if steps are taken in the right direction then there would come a time when women would definitely be able to ‘have it all’ in the true sense.


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About Meha Sharma

Dreamer,Writer,Mother,Fauji wife...all while striving to overcome something called 'Procrastination' :) I dabble in writing and write for @huffpostindia, @womensweb , @mycity4kids. I worked as a Business Analyst in an elite IT firm and as a professor in management colleges. Having earned an MBA degree in Human Resource Management and an MA degree in English Literature, I now pass on my wisdom to management students. To keep my sanity while striving to be a 'decent' mom to my ever inquisitive daughter, I tell myself, what Winnie the Pooh says,"My favourite day is today" :)
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26 Responses to Why Can’t We Have it all ?

  1. mahekg says:

    This is one field where the progress is very slow. We as women who might have a good experience but have fewer options to go back to work.

  2. So true! I have seen my friend struggle and attend many interviews after a break of just 1 and half year! She choose to get back to work early as she had help from her in-laws and her mother. But the attitude many companies shoved at her was disheartening!

  3. bumpymiracle says:

    I agree with you completely.. I have been working in films for the past ten years.. having worked at all odd places across the globe, with crazy work timings.. I know for sure that there is no warm welcome for me if I tell them I need flexi hours or fixed hours or work from home mode.. I had to turn everything around and just chose to work in a different field altogether to make things work for me.. So i agree with u.. its important that we do something about this.. what really – that I don’t know yet

    • Meha Sharma says:

      I understand completely. There are certain jobs wherein you just cannot ask for flexible timings. But, now that the world has shrunk owing to the internet, I am sure things will change. Let’s hope so! Thank you for writing in!

  4. This is so true. This is something that organisations really need to think about and I am glad you wrote about it.

  5. Ryan says:

    This is so true. I’ve seen my wife balance career and look after our kids and it’s not easy. Luckily we have both our parents to help us out. It’s mighty hard for women to get a job they deserve after a break because most companies don’t offer flexible working hours. After a lot of pressure maternity leave has been extended to 6 months which is probably somewhat of a start. Hopefully things improve! You have very nicely highlighted the problem. Now if someone can do something about it, it would be great!

    • Meha Sharma says:

      So true. Balancing family and work is a daunting task. If women get some sort of support from organizations, it will definitely go a long way. Let’s hope, it happens gradually.Thank you for writing in!

  6. vinodinii says:

    I was nodding away through your post. Women in India have such limited options when they have to look for work opportunities that they can balance with their personal commitments. Working from home and flexi hours is a faraway dream in today’s juncture unless these are MNCs who have a slightly broader outlook towards productivity.

  7. Akshata Ram says:

    This is so true Meha, although a lot is being spoken about gender diversity and welcoming more women into the workforce , is it really being practised? Are women being offered flexible work timings or is it just a policy to showcase. Many questions remain unanswered

  8. Modern Gypsy says:

    It’s white disappointing! There are so many organisations that simply don’t understand the concept of flexi hours and work from home. Worse is the organisations that have both policies, but managers don’t “believe” in them, and think working from home or flexible hours is a sign of not being serious about work. It will take a lot for this mindset to change!

  9. Agree with you Meha and organizations must be more flexible in giving women opportunities to take care of children while at the same time they don’t lose on promotion. Women contribute a lot in terms of household and being professionals at work. High time we change our perceptions to eliminate gender bias.

  10. I’m not sure women, or anyone, can “have it all.” Because when we do, we’ll naturally want more. It’s the nature of the beast. But we shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate for our choices and our priorities. And it would be advantageous to businesses to facilitate women’s stay or return to the workplace, to retain talent.

    • Meha Sharma says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is just that, I strongly feel if businesses support women folk , they can balance both work and family and ‘ have it all’ in that sense.

      • I agree, if they can be satisfied in the balance. I think that takes a willingness to let go of the need to be “the best” – to accept that it’s usually okay to be “good enough”

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