15 Mar 2021 18:54 IST

IIMK survey reveals dearth of equal opportunities for women

The survey reveals that gender stereotyping and bias were key factors hindering progress

Give us a level playing field and leave the rest to us. We can take on any challenge and succeed,” say the respondents from a survey of women alumnae and students from the 20 IIMs in the country.

A staggering 35 per cent of the respondents said they do not have equal opportunities for career growth as the men in their organisations. While this number has shown a decline from 49 per cent in the previous edition of the survey (2020), there is considerable scope for improvement.

The second Pan-IIM survey on ‘Women in the Workplace’, is an initiative of IIM Kozhikode and it received over 350 responses from alumni and students across the 20 IIMs, with the majority of respondents working at mid to senior management levels across industries. While most of the responses came from India, there was a response mix across 15 other countries.

Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM Kozhikode said “with this survey, we attempt to go a step further to decode and give a voice to the women from IIMs who continue to challenge the stereotypes and break new grounds. The woman of today only demands equal opportunities, it is their time to lead and shine.”

Gender stereotyping and bias emerged as key factors hindering progress of women professionals and 58 per cent of the respondents said they encountered bias at the workplace. The most commonly encountered biases are ‘Prove it again’ and ‘The Tightrope’. 26 per cent encountered the ‘Prove it Again’ bias where women are held to a higher standard than men and must continually prove themselves. Women are promoted on performance, while men are promoted on potential. 23 per cent encountered ‘The Tightrope’ bias where professional women are seen as too weak or too assertive — and in response, must try to balance between the two. Elimination of unconscious bias is among the most valued Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.

The dearth of women in leadership was starkly evident with 61 per cent saying that female representation in their organizations’ top leadership tier was insignificant and that they need more role models to look up to. The lack of female role models made it to the top 3 challenges, along with lack of mentorship and lack of strong professional networks and allies.

In keeping with the current global situation, the survey included questions on the post pandemic work scenario and 81 per cent of the respondents said they prefer to work from home at least partially even post the pandemic.

Indra Nooyi and Kiran Shaw Mazumdar emerged as the most admired women leaders, with quite a few respondents expressing pride and solidarity with Indra Nooyi being a fellow IIM alumna.