The most prominent barrier to women in workplace is the burden of family responsibilities. Many women find it difficult to find the balance between work and family. Moreover, it has been made clear by several surveys that between men and women, the burden of the family responsibilities lies on the latter. In a study conducted for women working in the IT industry, it was observed that while about 30% of the workforce comprises of women, and a large number of women attire every year for some reason or the other. This results in a loss of women from the workforce with an experience of about 3-10 years and these women without doubt have the potential to contribute significantly to the economy. Naturally, these career breaks are not favourable for the economy.
There are many factors that contribute to the decision of taking a gap or leaving work by women. Some of the social factors that can be held responsible for this include elder care and about 38% of women quit or leave their job due to this reason. Marriage is another reason that compels women to leave their jobs. It is sometimes a voluntary decision and sometimes women are forced to take this decision due to the laid back mentality of few people in India. Due to marriage, about 67% of women leave their jobs. Pregnancy and childbirth are also prominent reasons that have been observed for women to leave their jobs. Despite provision for maternity leave, and other facilities provided, as much as 71% women leave their jobs as a consequence of pregnancy. The reason can be improper implementation of the various Acts due to which the provisions are not in place or it can also be a voluntary decision of the woman. Childbirth is another reason for women to leave their job and it is surprising that as many as 94% women leave their job or take a break after childbirth mostly because the burden of family responsibilities has to be beared by her and out of both the parents, the woman is assumed to be the one making all sacrifices. These social factors become more visible when they are related to the mind set prevalent in the country and this becomes the root of issue. About 77% women leave their job due to spouse relocation because they eventually end up moving with their husbands.
Along with these social factors, there exist some structural factors also that affect the professional life of women. It is true that many steps have been taken to make the workplace safer for women and things have improved in that aspect but at the same time, there are still many organisations or places where this is still a reason for women to quit their jobs. Women also face difficulties when they have to travel a lot for work because the surroundings of the entire country do not seem to be very safe. Long commute timings or workplaces that are far from home become another reason why women decide to not work. These issues are often accelerated by the pressure from households and women are sometimes forced to take the decision of not working. About 52% of women stop working due to the pressure from home or families, and this pressure can be built upon them due to a variety of reasons. Night shifts and long working hours also drive women to stop working, as about 41% and 74% women quit their jobs respectively for the mentioned reasons. There is poor implementation of laws when it comes to day care or nursing facilities. Some women are not provided the required medical expenses or facilities and as a result about 55% of women stop working.
There is often discrimination in workplaces between men and women and it has been observed and is a highly discussed phenomenon that women often do not get opportunities to grow. It is not just true for one organisation or industry but has been observed over various different industries. About 21% of women quit their job due to lack of growth opportunities and it is highly unfair that for the same amount of work, women often do not get the same credit and sometimes a woman who is more capable of leading is not given the opportunities she deserves is actually a setback for the organisation. It is high time that people start accepting the place of women in the workforce and start supporting them instead of trying to make them believe that they don’t belong there. It is a shame that even in the 21st century, about 74% of women face a lack of support system at home.
There are some other personal reasons also as a result of which women decide to quit their jobs or take a break but these reasons are justifiable and are taken independently by women in most cases. Reasons like higher studies, health issues amongst many others.
There are many ways to support and encourage the participation of women in the workforce. One of the most important way is through support from family and it will only be possible through awareness and a shift in mindset. The shift in mindset can be observed but the situation is still worse in many households. Therefore improving the educational levels and making individuals understand the importance of contributing to the economy and the workforce is the prime thing. Flexible working hours is another thing that would ensure active participation of women. Day care and reduced working hours would also serve as an incentive and many women would decide against quitting their jobs. There can also be provision for mentoring programmes to help women with all kinds of problems that they can face at work and methods to deal with those. Sexual harassment policies also need to be in place and action needs to be taken immediately under such circumstances to make the workplace safe for women.