While everyone is talking excitedly about the career choices available for students in general, I would like to caution the girl students and their parents to tread this path to final career choice even more carefully than ever before.
There were times when girls would opt for more traditional career choices like medicine, teaching and banking. The reason was obvious. With these careers, there was predictability about time devotion, flexibility and a safe and fixed work environment. This in turn was based on the very basic facts of our social and cultural expectations. There was no conflict then about the role of men and women and career rules for girls were clearly defined and accepted.
Near the end of the earlier century, the winds of change started flowing faster than we had time to adapt to. And amongst the chaos, there emerged new utterly confused role of the new woman.
The new parents were the forward looking generation of the last century and they were enthusiastic and positive about a girl child. Educating the girl child became equally important in all such families. Parents took a few steps forward and began training their daughters for the new world by supporting their extracurricular and confidence building activities and slowly emerged the today’s new age girl who is proudly introduced by her parents, especially by the doting father, as the “BOY” of the house. This girl, the young aspiring students of today is now dreaming of attacking the men’s world and thinks that if she works hard, she will never have to look back again!!!
And this generation X of girls is seeking out the latest and most challenging careers!!!
My first question is for the parents of these girls… “that you are supporting your daughter to select the career of her choice, would you let her pursue the career to its meaningful end even if it means extending the marriage age beyond the conventional?” and my second question is, “When the time comes, would you put a condition that the groom for your daughter and his family would let her pursue the career of her choice? OR would you say like many parents tell me, “hum to achcha ghar aur ladka dekhenge bad mein jaise unki marzi hogi waise he isko rehena padega” (We would seek a good family and groom and the rest would depend on them). Again, a girl has to play many roles in life; she is the primary caretaker and the mother. These two roles require her to compromise on her career many times. In such a situation if the work conditions are inflexible, for a girl it may mean choosing between job and the family and can lead to frustrations, in the absence of any other convenient alternatives.
There is nothing wrong with these set of concepts and traditions, but my concern reaches out for your daughter. Especially with the current generation, when a girl looks ahead for being next to none and gazes at the sky, one fine morning you clip her wings and remind her that you are a girl and now your freedom to choose and think is over!!!
Here I quote an example. Biotechnology as a career is a rare choice amongst youngsters, especially girls. Many parents approach me to find out how their wards can make a career in this “in” career of today. But most are not aware that this is a research based career and to take this career to a logical conclusion, one has to follow the long route of PHD and the career path is essentially in research field and has scope only when the girl can reside in places where there are relevant industries!!!
My concept is straight…if you know your traditions, social and cultural limitations, let your daughter know them too and help her select a career that she can use under any circumstances. If we continue with the same example… knowing very well that the girl may not have a say in her place of residence or taking up employment, why not help her with a career that matches her aptitude and interest and has the flexibility of either taking up employment or getting productively engaged by working from home, or contributing to the family business as the case may be. There can be many options for each individual.
The times may change and so will the society, but nature will not reverse. Men and Women have to play certain roles that ensure the balance of nature. Girls have to feel proud of their roles as creators and caretakers rather than getting bogged down with frustrations and victimization. A timely scientific career planning can ensure to make the girl a strong individual and nurturer of the family while pursuing a career of her choice.