That thing about Indian entrepreneurs who happen to be women

There is a gender pattern to the entrepreneurs when they choose their enterprises and women who choose the type of employment. The presiding Minister of Human Resources Development (HRD) Smriti Irani started her work life by managing her father’s courier enterprise. Scaling the HR down to the corporate sector, it is interesting to note the gender stereotypes as we often find women in-charge of the HR. It makes one wonder the extent to which gender influences the choice of academics, profession and sustenance in work force throughout one’s lifetime. There is an interesting dialogue in the film Nil Battey Sanatta (2016), “Ladkiyon ki maths se purani dushmani hai” (Girls find an old foe in Math.) I can vouch that in my case the dialogue holds true which is why I avoided taking Math in my academics and weeded it out of my career. How much I should attribute my academics and career to my gender and how much of it to the liberal upper class value system into which I was born and raised, my aptitude which is genderless, my passion which can be greatly influenced by my socio-cultural and economic circumstances and my response to the proverbial market? There can be no clear attribution percentages to each of the aforementioned variables. Women can make employment choices which depend on their socio-economic circumstances and their personal interests which also emerge from the same circumstance. Having said that, the ‘socio’ part of the socio-economic circumstance is conditioned by what we understand by gender norms.


Emma Watson is of the opinion that gender inequality impacts men as much as it impacts women. Germaine Greer gives a perspective that often feminism is confused with male imitation. If men dominate corporations, then female dominance in the same sector does not mean feminism. The reason being that large corporations operate like monsters, in John Steinbeck’s terms. It does no particular good to either sexes. By liberation, Greer means, “…to set women free to develop their own potential and not to imitate what the men have established. To discover how to bring their own notions of what is appropriate, what is worthwhile, how we should live, how we should interact.” Yoko Ono value adds and emphasizes on the same point of futility in beating men to their game when it comes to corporate domination. The uniting factor between Greer, Watson and Ono is making employment a gender neutral space. The need to increase the sense of self while heeding the intellect and the heart. The three women call for self-introspection, detachment from comparison with the opposite sex and acceptance of gender needs in order to do something meaningful in life and be productive in the work force. Having said that, they are not ruling out the reality of genderization in employment and choice of work.The mere words ‘self-introspection’, ‘acceptance of gender needs’ opens a can of worms regarding the dynamics between intellect, heart and what conditions the two.Going by the wisdom of the three women, can we safely say that Indian women entrepreneurs are practicing what is preached? Even if we agree with Greer, Watson and Ono, we cannot match the essence of what they said and what is happening around us. There is a lot of baggage to the term, ‘Indian women entrepreneurs’ and a lot of choices they make are genderized. In this case, ‘self-introspection’ and ‘acceptance of gender needs’ are actually defining the gender arenas distinctly. The question is if it is okay to have defined gender arenas or should there be none?

1Untitled is a website dedicated to highlighting the culture of entrepreneurs in India. There is an entire section on women entrepreneurs and their stories. All the featured Indian women have in common the fact that they come from a more privileged socio-economic strata of the society and that their enterprises carefully circumvent science and technology and embrace their primitive instincts to nurture, care and a love of art and aesthetics.Citing specific examples from the website it was observed that the women led enterprises ranged from stationary, jewelry and paraphernalia, creating system to help more women get back to work after a break, enterprises that nurture humans and animals and many such. Those women entrepreneurs who ventured into other areas like real estate, packers and movers, alloy manufacturing had a male partner who was either in a supporting role or at the helm of affairs. Having one’s own enterprise is a voluntary decision to be productive in a specific manner which is different from holding a regular corporate job under a conglomerate. This is all the more reason why the pattern of genderized enterprise reflects a lot on how we process feminism and that it may lead to more clearly defined gender categories in which lives are led. Not that there is a problem in it because simplification has always made life easy. I am merely curious to know what changes it may have on the social fabric of a country like ours which has always been inclined to create separate worlds for the two sexes.

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