On Facebook, our IT cohort has a group in which we discuss various issues regarding IT and allied aspects. During the last few days of our Singapore stint, our Professor of a subject, who is also a part of the the group, posted a question that really made me think.
The question, in a nutshell, was why women are not being talked about as visionaries and creators of culture. Women are certainly celebrated, appreciated and recognised for their contribution to society and business, but why is there a dearth of female visionaries? Why aren’t there as many equivalents of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or even N R Narayana Murthy even when women are considered more creative, intuitive and hard-working?
This question really got me thinking. I thought about it for a while but I could not come up with a cause for this anomaly. I am sure there have been many female leaders and visionaries, but not as many as men. A friend posted that historically, men have had their status earned as bread-winners for the family, due to which their independence was gradually asserted into the fabric of the system. On the other hand, women have been conventionally treated as dependents with more familial responsibilities. This has led to the social structure in which men have been more prominent in their fields while women have continued to be devoid of equal opportunities.
However, that is changing. Popular current leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg, Sheikha Al Mayassa and if I may call her a woman, Malala Yousafzai, are bringing about change. Sandberg has been in the top echelons of companies such as Google and Facebook and is a well-known figure in the field of women empowerment in the corporate world. Her efforts, through her talks at TED and her book, have garnered attention in this field and are turning enough eyes on the subject.
Sheikha Al Mayassa, a staunch supporter of cultural change, is renowned not just in the Arab community but also all over the world. She has brought about change already in the relatively conservative Arab world and is striding towards bringing about cross-national cultural change in the area. This is also empowering women in the Middle East, who are becoming more independent and are beginning to break the shackles of their cocoons. The number of female entrepreneurs in the Middle East has soared in the last few years, women are becoming more prominent in many fields and education is on the rise.
In the field of education, there can be no better epitome of courage than Malala Yousafzai, a girl who was almost shot dead by the Taliban but still managed to not just survive but also emerge stronger for the same cause. Now in London, she recently spoke at a UN conference which the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended. Her efforts for the widespread accessibility of education to women in the Islamic world have brought her tremendous support from all nooks and corners of the world.
Such women, and many more like them, are changing the way the world views women. Of course, a lot needs to be done to be truly able to reach more acceptable levels. Just look at the Indian crime rate on women to know how much needs to be done. Nonetheless, efforts in the right direction are being taken. These women, by being torchbearers of change in the field of culture and women empowerment, are worth of praise.
As a whole, the situation is changing. But if I have to wonder about what led to all this change, I am still baffled. I am not able to place my finger on one single aspect of the entire system. I am still searching for answers. What I have, for the time being, is a theory which another Professor incepted in my mind a few days ago.
Stay tuned for more…