Despite making great strides in education, with women outpacing men in grades from school to college degrees, the representation of women in India's formal workforce is alarmingly low. According to World Bank estimates, the female labour participation rate in India fell to 20.3 percent in 2019, compared to more than 26 percent in 2005 and 31.9 percent in 1983. The rural sector fares better, with a rural female workforce participation rate of 24.7 percent, while the corresponding urban rate is 18.5 percent.
The underrepresentation of women in India's workforce is a pressing issue that calls for deeper examination of the underlying reasons. In order to understand the reasons for this disparity, primary research was conducted in the form of a survey, with responses from 85 women across various roles in tech, HR, strategy, R&D, and ops.
One of the key findings from the survey was that women feel unfulfilled at work compared to the effort they put in, and struggle to visualize a fulfilling career path for themselves. Additionally, they cited a lack of support, bias, and difficulty balancing work and personal life as reasons for dropping out of the workforce.
On the other hand, the survey also revealed that women valued policies such as women-friendly facilities, transport, and availability of childcare at the workplace. They expressed a strong desire for interventions in the form of negotiation and networking essentials, personal finance, leading a balanced and fulfilling life, and self-exploration.
It is evident that while women in India are making great strides in education, they still face many barriers in the workplace. The lack of support and fulfillment at work, coupled with the need for work-life balance, are major factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in India's formal workforce. This disparity not only affects women, but also the economy as a whole, as it limits the potential for growth and development.
As a society, it is imperative that we address this issue and provide women with the support and resources they need to succeed in the workplace. This can be achieved through policies that promote gender equality and support women in their personal and professional lives, as well as through initiatives that provide women with the skills and training they need to succeed.
In conclusion, the underrepresentation of women in India's formal workforce is a serious issue that demands our attention and action. By addressing the underlying reasons and providing women with the support they need, we can unlock their potential and drive the growth and development of our economy.