Saturday, June 26, 2010

Win and No Win Situation!

It is again that time of the year when parents and students are tensed about the results of the Higher Secondary and Senior Secondary School exams as well as the innumerable entrance exams that the students appear for to gain entry into professional courses. The marks and ranks obtained practically determine the future of the student, unless of course the parents have the capacity to buy management seats. This is also the time when girls reassert their academic supremacy by faring much better than the boys. The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education had announced Maharashtra class 12th results. Like in the earlier years, once again girls fared exceptionally well. The passing percentage of girls is 80.48 whereas for Boys it is 73.17. The overall passing percentage of the HSC examination is 76.36%.

It is shocking but not really unexpected to read about an emerging trend in some colleges of Bangalore to hike the cut off marks for girls because they outperform the boys in HSC exams.It is reported that the MES College and National College in Bangalore set the cut-off point for boys at 594 and cut off point for girls at 599.

This is just another manifestation of the societal attitude towards girl's education which makes parents prioritize investments in boy's education over that of the girls. This attitude at one stroke undervalues the achievement of the girls while reinforcing the gender inequities. It is interesting to note that the performance of the girls is trivialized by comments like "girls do not have extra-curricular activities or distractions and only focus on studies and therefore score well in exams". If we take this statement at face value, it raises two questions: why do girls not have opportunities to indulge in extracurricular activities or distractions and why is our education system discriminatory when it comes to promoting sports and outdoor activities for the girls. Not just our schools and colleges even at home girls and boys are not given the same freedom of movement and access to public spaces - parks, play grounds, etc.

Why do we always discount the achievements of women. If a woman succeeds at work place,it is because she uses her charms, if she makes a mark in politics it is because of her family connections and if she does well in studies it is because of
boredom!What about her aspirations, her ambitions and her commitment and hardwork?

It is sad that such attitudes actually make women and girls undervalue their own aspirations and achievements. In a survey conducted by Population First among youth, similar attitudes were expressed. A total of 521 parents and 642 students from all over Mumbai were administered a questionnaire on how they perceive gender roles. However, the attitude that came across was that girl's education or career is secondary to that of the boy's and that her education and career choices should be delimited by thatof her husband's. One fourth of the people interviewed felt that there would be problems in the family if the woman is more educated or earns more than the man. This reflects the unquestioned acceptance of the gender equations at home where men are seen as superior to women. Such attitudes justify and rationalize glass ceilings and should be questioned.


  1. Gender at work

    The family picture is on HIS desk.
    Ah, a solid, responsible family man.
    The family picture is on HER desk.
    Umm, her family will come before her career.

    HIS desk is cluttered.
    He's obviously a hard worker and a busy man.
    HER desk is cluttered.
    She's obviously a disorganized scatterbrain.

    HE is talking with his co-workers.
    He must be discussing the latest deal.
    SHE is talking with her co-workers.
    She must be gossiping.

    HE's not at his desk.
    He must be at a meeting.
    SHE's not at her desk.
    She must be in the ladies' room.

    HE's having lunch with the boss.
    He's on his way up.
    SHE's having lunch with the boss.
    They must be having an affair.

    The boss criticized HIM.
    He'll improve his performance.
    The boss criticized HER.
    She'll be very upset.

    HE got an unfair deal.
    Did he get angry?
    SHE got an unfair deal.
    Did she cry?

    HE's getting married.
    He'll get more settled.
    SHE's getting married.
    She'll get pregnant and leave.

    HE's having a baby.
    He'll need a raise.
    SHE's having a baby.
    She'll cost the company money in maternity benefits.

    HE's going on a business trip.
    It's good for his career.
    SHE's going on a business trip.
    What does her husband say?

    HE's leaving for a better job.
    He knows how to recognize a good opportunity.
    SHE's leaving for a better job.
    Women are not dependable.

  2. I chanced upon this piece but do not know the author - but I am sure it is a woman!

  3. Gender biased attitude need to change.....sometimes i feel even women need to change. Why always look out for a man taller as life partner..Why earning more? Stronger?

    rita som

  4. Yes I agree, ultimately it is the equation between the man and woman which matters. Woman should be convinced about their own independence and identity and should acquire the skills to negotiate for their space in society, work places and family. Why live in the reflected glory of the Husband? Why not be somebody in one's own right? We need to open communication channels with the youth to help them question such mindsets.