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3 Tips for Career Growth Among Indian Women

Looking to advance in your career? It’s not always as easy for women living in India, as these sobering statistics show:

  1. Only one-fifth of adult women in the country had a job or sought one in 2019 (Source: The International Labour Organisation, via The Economist)
  2. Only 7 per cent of urban women are in or looking for work (Source: The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, via The Economist)
  3. Eighty-five per cent of women in India claim they have passed over for a raise or a promotion because of their gender (Source: The Economic Times)

Those statistics can make it seem almost impossible at times to advance in your career.

But career growth is possible and unavoidable as the country grows and sees an influx of intelligent, hard-working women in the labour force.

Tip 1: Your relationship with your superiors is vitally important

Have a boss you don’t get along with? Or are you in charge of a team at work but have superiors over you?

A recent study, “Factors affecting career advancement of Indian women managers,” shows that one of the most critical factors in career success is a person’s relationship with their immediate supervisor. Likewise, supervisory support is a significant factor in influencing the decision to undertake leadership and growth within the workplace.

The study also showed how important it is to have regular communication with your supervisor, especially for women who manage work and life responsibilities.

Tip 2: Mentors are crucial

The study also showed the value of having influential managers willing to give female workers the chance to prove themselves. Those who had influential leaders in their company who mentored and advocated for them received more opportunities and new challenges. And the gender of the mentor meant less than the help he or she provided.

Tip 3: Your employer’s history with female employees makes a difference

The workforce here is still male-dominated, and that might never change. However, some companies have a better track record than others when hiring female employees and promoting them. Your company’s history with its female employees is vitally important if you’re hoping to advance in your career.
Our findings show that one of the most important interpersonal relationship factors in perceptions of career success among the respondents was their relationship with the immediate supervisor.

Supervisory support emerged as a significant factor in influencing one’s choice to engage in leadership development activities:

I had a very strong lady boss who taught me things that my mother didn’t teach me. She would shake me out of my comfort zone but be there to support me. She was task focused as well as people focused. She was on top of everything. She was upfront and had strong convictions which I have learnt and that helped me to grow (middle manager, ITES sector).

The findings also indicated that informal interactions, abundant communication with supervisors and frequent feedback, make them feel more satisfied and motivated. The role of supervisor especially at the life stage when most women go through a conflict between managing work and life responsibilities emerged to be significant.