Women Leadership | 5 Min Read


Women & Aspirations: Is your career primary or secondary?

Kalpana Tatavarti

Founder and CEO, Parity Consulting
I first met Archana when she was about 29 years old in Hyderabad; she was a key member of the team of our personal wealth management consultants. I remember being impressed with her commitment, willingness to stretch and excellent interpersonal skills. Her energy and ambition were palpable at every meeting. Soon we developed a special rapport and she would often talk to me about her aspirations and dreams. Within 4 years, she said, she would head the team and within the next 4 years, head the wealth management division. With her credentials and her hard work I had no doubt that she would achieve her aspirations.

Cut to ten years later.

I was pleasantly surprised when a young woman tapped me on my shoulder in a restaurant in Mumbai, “Hi Kalpana don’t you remember me?” It was an older Archana! We had lost touch after we moved out of Hyderabad: she to Mumbai and me to Bangalore. Over lunch I asked her about her ‘4 years + 4 years to head the division’ aspiration. She looked sheepish and said “Oh that took a pivot once my children were born. Though I am still working with the same Bank, I m not so keen on career growth.”


Sounds familiar? To your own experience or one of your colleague’s/team member’s/employee’s experience?

Why do women give up on their aspirations so quickly?

In all the work we do with women in workplaces, we see the key reason boils down to this single belief, often unsurfaced:

“Careers are secondary; personal life is the primary responsibility for women”

Women (and their stakeholders) see careers and personal lives as dichotomous.

One has to ‘sacrifice’ one for the other.

And so the ‘tyranny of the OR’ begins.

Their own aspirations and careers become secondary; setting the precedent for a slew of secondary roles that limit their careers and career growth. And of course societies reward women for choosing the ‘personal’ track.

In our women leadership workshops, we unpeel the layers behind the choices & decisions women take (albeit unconsciously) in the workplaces. We have rewarding conversations that enable them revisit their internal dialogues and limiting beliefs that impede them from realizing their aspirations. We invite them to ‘embrace the genius of the AND’.

Once this stage is set for giving themselves the permission and power to live their aspirations, we provide them the skills to traverse the leadership journey, such as Influencing Skills, Strategic Thinking, Leading with Power, Branding, Visibility & Networking etc.

If you are a woman at crossroads, reject the tyranny of the OR – of having to choose between career and personal life. if you see one of your colleagues or team members at the same crossroads, mentor them to revisit this belief that they might internalized through socialization! 

Neither career nor personal life should be ‘secondary’ for anyone; both are necessary for fuller lives, for both men and women!

Want to know more about our women leadership programs? Write to us at info@parityconsulting.in


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