Let them in

  • Active representation of women in bureaucracy cannot be ignored anymore

Nov 8, 2018-

Over the last few years, there has been a significant growth in the number of women applying for civil services. In fact, last year, women applicants outnumbered men. According to the annual report released by the Public Service Commission, in the fiscal year 2017/18, 296,704 women applied for civil service positions compared to 271,149 male applicants. This means we are creating a culture where women feel emboldened to step out of their comfort and join demanding jobs like public administration. No doubt, this is a step in the right direction but further study tells us that although there are more women applicants, ultimately, the number of women hired are fewer than men. Although workplace diversity can spur innovation, boost productivity and different people can bring in new sets of ideas and skills to the table, we have traditionally ignored it.

Data from the last five years reveal that there have been changes in the number of women application for the job, wherein in some years there have more women applicants while at other times, there have been male. Yet, what has remained constant is the fact that the number of men hired was always higher than that of women. For example, in the fiscal year 2015-16, as many as 3,18,503 women applied for civil service jobs compared to only 2,75,877 men. Following that in 2016-17, the figures stood at 3,82,485 women versus 4,62,812 men. Last year too there were more women applicants than men. But when it comes to the actual hiring, in 2015, despite more women applying for the jobs, only 2,140 women were recruited whereas 3,498 men were on-board. Similarly, in 2016-17 4,134 the number of women and men hired stood at 4,134 and 5,431 respectively. And last fiscal year, the number of men recruited was almost twice as more than women.

We cannot overlook the fact that while women apply for the jobs, ultimately, many fail to appear for the final exam. There could be various reasons for this. Preparing for civil service is very demanding. It warrants one’s complete devotion and requires discipline. But our society is still quite traditional. While we have allowed women some freedom and empowered them a little bit, barring a few exceptions, women are still told to settle than to strive. This lack of a conducive environment to study compounded by other societal pressure women are constantly faced with distracts them. Consequently, cases abound of women having to halt preparations midway, although begrudgingly.

Further, even though women make it through the exams, a patriarchal mindset permeates our bureaucracy. An entrenched belief that women will get married and will soon have biological roles of childbearing also impedes their career prospects in the civil services. So, in spite of constitutional guarantees and other governmental initiatives to remove gender discrimination from the civil services, women have to continue to fight against a variety of odds to attain career success.

Government institutions and policy generate outcomes that have disparate impacts on women and men. Therefore, an active representation of women in bureaucracy will contribute to a more democratic polity as well as their interests.

Published: 08-11-2018 07:41

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