Friday, August 9, 2013

Killing them softly

My nephew came home from work in a cheerful mood. “What’s on” I asked him, curious. “I’m safe” he said smugly. “The new person who has joined our department is a woman”. “How does that make you safe” I persisted. “You see” he explained patiently, “Our department is a small one and promotions are few. It’s highly competitive. If a man had joined us, we’d have one more rival. But women are not competitive. So, we’re all relieved!”
Is it really so or mere wishful thinking of my dear nephew? Surprisingly, another friend who told me that he had appointed a lady in a sensitive department of his office expressed the same sentiment. It made me think and the exercise yielded a few observations. I would not swear by them, but they stem out of a logical analysis.
Why is it that women are not competitive? It has something to do with their attitude. To a man, a job spells security, a livelihood and also appeals to his ego. Right from childhood, it has been dinned into him that he will have to be a breadwinner.
To him, a job becomes a necessity. Once it becomes a race to survive, he has to marshal all his physical and mental resources. Every participant in this race becomes a rival. He watches their stance, their strategies and their staying power. He gauges their capacity and his own, vis-a-vis theirs.
 He has to plot and plan his own moves to get an edge over the others. He is so involved in this complicated process that a job ceases to be a pleasant episode. It becomes a battle royal.
To a woman, a job is no doubt a monetary relief from the demands made on the family coffer. But she does not go to it as a hawk. Once she gets her job, her sole interest is in doing it well and proving that she is good at it. She is not bitten by the desire to get there at any cost. Centuries of living on a ‘second best’ treatment have mellowed her and she is quite thankful for the opportunity of being in an office instead of slogging before a cooking range. She is also devoted to home and hearth and does not relish a situation, which requires her to abandon its attendant responsibilities.
Sometimes, the men might misjudge their women colleagues and they are in for a nasty jolt. After all, one has to make provisions for that exception which tilts the balance. These exceptional women are as go getting as their male counterparts and can stoop or rise to any level to attain their goals.
All preconceived notions of women and their ‘typical’ attitudes have to be put aside. Such women are on the increase and proving more than competitive or a threat. Because they have two plus points to help them.
One is their achievement -motivated ambition and the other is the deadly weapon of womanhood. They use the latter to disarm their male colleagues and lull them into a state of complacency. Then they strike. So, nephew dear, sorry, to sound like one of the witches in Macbeth’ – but beware when women walk into your department.