Inclusive Workplaces | 3 Min Read

The Glass Ceiling between Maternity and Paternity Leave


Jyoti Batra

Program Head, NIIT Technologies

“Diversity and Inclusion” are the two most talked about words in today’s world and more so in the corporate world with respect to women. A genuine effort is being made by organizations to encourage women in leadership roles by having specialized programmes to achieve the same. One of the key issues amongst many that are being addressed is to get young mothers back to work.

It is a continuous challenge for young mothers who want to balance work and the home front. During a conversation with a young mother, I was musing about how the times have changed. These days, women have a long maternity leave compared to my time, nearly 25 years ago, when I hardly had 80 days of maternity leave. I was quite taken aback by a remark made by a young mother:

“It is good that times have changed but that also means earlier you could be back to work in 80 days and pursue your passion. Don’t you think that paternity leave should be made compulsory?  Don’t you think there should be a “follow up” leave so that new fathers can take care of the child for the next 3 months after a woman’s maternity leave ends? There are men who, in spite of having the option to take leave, still prefer not to take days off. “

Very rightly said! I never thought about it like that; on one hand, we are celebrating the new “Maternity Bill” with extended leave for new moms. It is a great welcome step but is that enough? This is meant to enable new mothers to balance their needs but are we not promoting stereotypes about women as the child bearer and also the child carer? Don’t men also need that kind of support and coaching to cross the barrier and take paternity leave?

Another point to mull over: when mothers are ready for work, do they get the correct infrastructure support, daycare, crèche? Or do they still need to rely on domestic help or an extended family support system? So isn’t paternity leave really required for dads to support mothers – will that not be a step towards increased diversity inclusion? Maybe it will even be the support required to break that “Glass Ceiling”.

As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book, “Lean In”

A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes

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