IBPC Women’s Forum hosts an International Women’s Day Special in Dubai in March with top Indian expat businesswomen taking the stage Image Credit: Supplied

From astronauts to accountants and everything in between, women are present in every profession now.

From the early 1900s, even as machines first began to replace humans, women increasingly began to fulfil their dreams, break through glass ceilings and out of plastic moulds, as part of workforces both inside and outside home.

Much advancement has been made, particularly over this last half-century, in trying to level the field for women, in comparison to their male counterparts.

Gender diversity, inclusion of more women on board, creating options such as flexible working hours, rules prohibiting harassment in any form; these are among the commitments both governments and companies make.

What some women say

However, a zone where legislation is not just difficult but impossible, is peoples’ minds. Women still compete under a disadvantage in the professional arena. Substantiating the research are personal experiences that women quote - they need to prove their competence in their area of expertise more than men do, feel their work contributions are ignored, find it harder to ask for a favour from a colleague that would ease their work a bit, and essentially run much harder and faster to reach the same goal post.

A fleeting thought on the genesis of this issue; could it just be impressions and actions of misguided males, or could there be an element where the inherent nature of being a woman contributes to this?

The value women bring

At the IBPC Women’s Forum, we move forward to another perspective, which focuses on changing this way of being. We aim to provide women with a doorway to network, to learn, to communicate with like-minded souls who share similar experiences and therefore provide understanding as well as solutions for day-to-day problems. We aim to create a forum for building a solid grid of relationships who can recognise, appreciate and build on each other’s abilities.

It could be that these abilities are not valued enough for what they bring to the workplace. Taking a bit of a liberty with generalisations, one example of a commonly-regarded-as-female trait is multitasking. You might have seen (or been) a stressed-out colleague running home at 5pm to take her kids to karate class and answering emails while waiting. What lies behind this adept juggler is likely a highly self-motivated person with great problem-solving and organisational skills.

Or take the business woman who under-prices an assignment, feeling it churlish to ‘discuss money’. (She is possibly the twin of the woman in your organisation who rehearses her speech for a well-deserved raise 10 times before she actually speaks up!) Like an optical illusion shows, the other interpretation of this picture is a colleague you can trust to create more value than she gives, someone who demonstrates the meaning of the word worthwhile in everything she does.

The joy of networking

An American career development article comments, “Women tend to work harder because many of them believe they need to prove their dedication…

Women with family responsibilities find it particularly difficult to take courses in the evenings or other job training opportunities that might be offered in locations too far from home.

Men frequently take advantage of men-only social opportunities outside of work that exclude female peers, to network with future bosses.”

IBPC has only 40 women members . Perhaps, this bears out some of the points above.

Our role at the Women’s Forum, IBPC for She, is to provide that opportunity outside of work, to involve more women of varied skill sets, and to create events crafted to help us all grow towards greater fulfilment in our work and in our lives. We look forward to seeing many more women joining us and sharing their experiences.