Gender Mainstreaming In The Economic Landscape - What Business Schools Can Do

There are harmful gender norms that hinder women's rights to participate in economic activities.

It is no secret that institutional and societal factors are contributing to gender inequality in the economic landscape. In a survey of the Labour force participation rate in 2019 by the International Labour Organization, only 20.8 per cent of the female population of 15 years and above are estimated to be in India's labour force and employment.

With women comprising over half the country's population, it is contrary to reason to think of economic development without strengthening this central pillar. Women need to be financially included and economically independent for the holistic development of the country.

Gender mainstreaming 

The current gender differences dictate what roles men and women have in society and what resources and opportunities they can access. Many success stories suggest women of our country are successful in the field of business. The women in India are enterprising and are capable of sustaining a business or occupying any job role. However, economic participation is still at a lower level. The underlying factors behind this skewness are the stereotypical gender roles and norms that perpetuate gender inequality. The financial involvement of women can objectively help develop an ecosystem where the opinions of all participants are freely voiced and defended. It is important because both men and women have equal rights to have their voices heard in decision-making processes concerning development and have an equal share in development outcomes. 

Gender mainstreaming and economic development

There are harmful gender norms that hinder women's rights to participate in economic activities. The glass ceiling at the top in the corporates suggests that business is an area where attention is not given to gender perspectives. 

Business schools can fulfil two significant goals: by introspecting inwards and adapting the organization to build a diverse and fulfilled workforce that thrives in its career, family, and personal life; the other, keenly looking outside to produce high-quality research that supports gender equality and equity for sustainable development. 

Gender mainstreaming must be seen as a process for promoting gender equality, facilitating other developmental goals, including economic goals.

Gender mainstreaming and Gender justice

On average, women are paid less than men for comparable work across all regions and sectors. At home, they face violence and abuse and, at work, unequal treatment. Women face discrimination and inequality in all spheres of life. The situation is grave even in wider communities. Women are denied equal opportunities when it comes to learning, earn and leading. Education can support women greatly in their fight to have equal opportunities to secure jobs and fair pay as men and have an equal chance to work their way out of discrimination and poverty.

Equal job opportunities, equal healthcare and education, equal decision-making power, and freedom can go a long way in shaping a gender-just society. When institutions address their needs and interests, women can make their own choices and exercise their collective voice.

Business schools as stakeholders for gender mainstreaming 

As per the data submitted by IIM Ahmedabad (NIRF rank one in the management school category institutions) to the National Institutional Ranking Framework- Ministry of Education, Government of India, the percentage of female students is about 27 per cent of the total student strength. The situation is likewise in many other business schools too. The problem at hand is simple: there aren't enough women in the B Schools in India. 

The number of women is considerably lower than men at business schools. Business schools also have fewer female students, deans, associate deans, full-time faculty, tenured faculty, and academic department chairs. The same prevails in the examples in textbooks, case studies, and as speakers.

Business schools can and should help mitigate the underrepresentation of women in management and leadership positions in the corporate world. This can be achieved by enhancing the curriculum and incorporating gender sensitization workshops. This will immensely help build a peer support group with solid gender equality skills, ready to advise corporates and other institutions on strengthening gender awareness, responsiveness, and putting gender equality at the center of their work. 

Supernumerary seats – i.e., seats in addition to the existing lot – reserved for women can help in increasing the percentage of women in higher education. This may create a positive cycle whereby the social barriers that exist in the way of the women compared to the men could be broken.

Business schools should cultivate innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship to deploy it for economic and social gains. Female students should be encouraged and inspired to pursue their entrepreneurial passions. Business schools should provide an ecosystem of resources that support innovators' unique needs inside and outside the classroom. MBA can also be a springboard for a career in social impact in non-profit organizations and corporations practicing social responsibility. Schools can contribute to building a new path for the leadership journey of women. The contribution of business schools can be immense as innovation and creativity are fundamental drivers of sustainable development in developing economies as it contributes to increased productivity and social development. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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