Gender bias seems to be leaving women with lesser pay
Women have often complained that they have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to get similar recognition. Nowhere does it reflect truer than on their paycheques. The country’s financial capital is considered to be a city where women are relatively free to find their feet, but the Mumbai woman too can’t escape this reality.
And the industry where pay disparity between men and women is starkes, is Bollywood. Male actors are traditionally paid more than their female counterparts, even those in lead roles, and it’s only recently that some women are making efforts to change the trend. Kareena Kapoor Khan is the envy of her colleagues in the industry for being the only female actor to command her price and get it. Kareena is among the few women known to charge remuneration at par with those of top-ranking male actors. She admits it has not been easy to break through the barrier. “After all the film industry is also bound by the nature of society. The heroine, no matter how popular she is, is still paid lesser than the hero who may not be half as popular. That only reflects the inequality that exists between men and women in Indian society,” she says.
Women in other professions don’t have it any better. After a career break of about 13 months, when Vibha Sanyal (name changed) resumed life as a working woman, she faced a bit of heartburn. Vibha was a successful team leader when she took a break after having her second child. She returned at the same salary level, albeit in a new company. But Vibha says her salary is about 30% lower than what her male colleagues draw. However Prachi Mehta (name changed), a Kandivli-based advertising professional, who quit when she had a child and later joined another agency a year later, doesn’t agree. “At my new place of work, my income has grown due to my expertise,” she says.
It’s no different in other markets. Catalyst, a leading global non-profit organization, in a study two years ago titled ‘Pipeline’s Broken Promise’, highlights findings from over 9,927 alumni who graduated from MBA programmes at 26 leading business schools in Asia (including India), Canada, Europe and the United States. It found on average, women graduates were being paid $4,600 less in their first job than men and were more likely to start at lower positions. Career path profiles indicated this disparity increased over time as job changes would bring faster compensation growth for men but slowed it for women. “Our study revealed women lag behind men in both job level and salary starting from their first position postbusiness school and do not catch up. Even after taking into account experience, industry and region, the report found women start at lower levels than men and are outpaced in rank and salary growth. Despite well-intentioned programmes, companies neglect to develop talented women. Also, men have more senior-level mentors,” says Deepali Bagati, senior director, Catalyst India.
Here are tips to manage your salary better.
However, S Ramesh Shankar, executive vice president, HR, Siemens, denies gender-based salary discrimination in campus placements at engineering and business schools in India. In fact most companies strongly deny any pay disparity. “Perhaps some women who take career breaks sometimes lose out in the short run when they return, as their male colleagues would have got compensation revision for a few years more. However, they can always catch up. I do not think in this age and day anyone does or can afford to have such discrimination,” says Santrupt Misra, CEO, carbon black business & director group HR, Aditya Birla Group. “Women have been a factor in the success of organisations. There is no reason why they should not be on an equal footing with male counterparts,” says Sunil Nayak, CEO of Sodexo India On-site Services.
“Equally qualified men or women don’t have disparities. But variable portions make a difference to end-of-the-year earnings as some targetdriven jobs usually involve men. Women are often constrained by long hours, travel and relocation,” says Sunil Goel, managing director, GlobalHunt India, an executive search firm.
Kareena says society needs to rethink its attitude to working women. “I feel I have the right to demand what I deserve. I do not determine my fee depending upon how much the male artiste is being offered. It is not about oneupmanship or competition. I deserve a certain fee and I stand by it.”
Image courtesy: © Thinkstockphotos/ Getty images