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Indian women pros ahead of those in US, Germany, Japan

Last updated on: April 2, 2013 15:08 IST

Indian women pros ahead of those in US, Germany, Japan

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Lalit K Jha in Washington

India's women professionals are realising their career ambitions remarkably well and are far ahead of their counterparts in the United States, Germany, and Japan in some critical ways, according to a latest report.

This is besides succeeding at the difficult balancing act that confronts the vast majority of working women around the world, head of a non-profit think tank Center for Talent Innovation has said.

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Image: A woman employee in a Dell factory in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu.
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According to the synopsis of the report posted on the blog of the Harvard Business Review by CTI president Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a little over one-third (36 per cent) of the 775 college-educated women surveyed voluntarily quit their jobs for a period of time or 'off-ramped'.

This is on par with the US, Japan, and Germany.

But the amount of time they spent out of the workforce was less than a year.

The most startling figure, however, is not that an overwhelming 91 per cent of Indian women want to return to work but that so many 'succeed' in on-ramping, Hewlett said.

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After leaving the job, many Indian women prefer to step back instead of stepping out and as many as 73 per cent take a 'scenic route', opting for part-time work, flexible work arrangements, or a position with fewer responsibilities, compared with 58 per cent in the US, 49 per cent in Germany and 36 per cent in Japan.

Hewlett said 72 per cent of women who want to on-ramp do not want to return to the company they left, which she termed as 'troubling'.

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Dissatisfaction with their rate of career progression drives almost as many women out of the workforce as childcare, she wrote.

Noting that many women have difficulty juggling work and family obligations and feel they receive neither support nor understanding from their employers, Hewlett said that although many companies offer flexible work arrangements, more than half (54 per cent) of women professionals believe they will be penalised if they choose that option.

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"Women who have taken a scenic route are significantly more likely (62 per cent versus 48 per cent) to feel stalled at work than their peers who followed a more conventional career path.

Returnees to full-time schedules also feel stigmatised for having taken a leave.

Suspicious that off-rampers might take time off again, co-workers are often resentful when they return, and managers marginalise them in dead-end project work," she said.

"In short, on-ramping is easy in India.

"Up-ramping -- regaining career momentum -- is hard," Hewlett wrote.

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