This CEO’s message on sexism, motherhood, gender quality wins the internet

It’s been a few days since the world celebrated International Women’s Day. And while it’s still baffling that we need one specific day to celebrate womanhood when there are 364 more days (plus one), we have to take into consideration the way women are – irrespective of the nation we live in – given secondary importance.

Manisha Girotra, the CEO of Moelis & Company, a Mumbai-based investment bank, recently spoke to Humans of Bombay on the importance of gender equality.

“I was raised in a middle class family that placed the most importance on education and being financially independent,” she recalls.

 

Girotra was one of the 50 students hired by Grindlays Bank right after graduating from the Delhi School of Economics. “My first few stints included delivering pizza to my bosses, labelling 15,000 chairs and keeping stock of stationery, but I loved it! It was a male dominated work environment, and most people thought I would get married and quit…no one really took me seriously. But I did everything to excel — I would study long hours after work, I would be the first one to enter and last one to leave. In fact, I met my husband at this company and even though I was married at the age of 24 — my passion to make it never died,” she added.

Even when Girotra and her husband were expecting their first child, she worked until the day of her delivery. Recalling the day, she says she finished her meeting and left straight from office to hospital. “Back then, the maternity leave was just 3 short months and there were no crèches at work — so I would bundle my daughter up with the nanny, keep her in a hotel nearby and rush in between work to feed her,” she said.

 

While her daughter was growing up, Girotra was subjected to the stereotypes that are created by society. Most times, she was frowned upon by women. “I remember, I was traveling for work once and couldn’t attend her parent-teacher meet, so my husband took her instead and all the mother’s there applauded him for being so ‘involved’— he came back feeling on top of the world but for mothers it’s considered a part of their duty and that’s where the problem lies. I was termed, a ‘bad mother’ because I couldn’t make it and this is 1 of a 100 incidents. Once when he took her to a birthday party, everyone there praised him and said, ‘your wife is so lucky — you’re a great husband’. He is the best man I could have ever asked for, but why does society place men on a higher pedestal? Isn’t he as responsible for her school and extra curricular activities as I am? Aren’t we equals?” she asked.

Girotra says the fight is not about work, it’s about gender equality. “As a working woman, I’ve been so disciplined and made my way to being the CEO of UBS, I’ve cracked billion dollar deals and gone home after to help my daughter with her science project. I’m on the World’s top 50 women on the business list, we set up Moelis from scratch and I still have 20 hour days but that doesn’t make me any less of a homemaker. If we really want to progress, gender equality should be on top of the list — where men and women are equals, where a woman’s career is deemed as important as a man’s and where a man isn’t treated like God for being involved at school or in the house. Just basic equality.”

 

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