Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Sexism & Patriarchy In IAS training institute, women civil servants are seen by male colleagues as husband-hunters!

2 replies, 2 voices Last updated by Manpreet Singh 2 years, 6 months ago
  • Woospire
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    Women IAS officers were seen as seeking spouses among their own kind, because no one would marry them now that they were in the IAS. – RENUKA VISWANATHAN

    Yash Tiwari
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    #33146
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    Female officers seldom mention reluctance to move from home as a factor in their employment by the government. It would seem that in Indian society it is the man who is expected to give up his home and follow his career. However, in the IAS and IPS, women are seen as husband-hunters. Even today, after decades of empowerment, they are seen by their male colleagues as inescapably destined for the altar. In India, the prestige of being a government ‘Sir’ is very high, especially if you are from the IAS. No other class of people comes anywhere near it. This is the case for both men and women. As an IAS officer, you have status and influence; you belong to the top crust, the elite, the beginning and end of society.

    No study has been able to pinpoint the exact manner in which women officers were discriminated against. Nor is it possible to arrive at the exact extent of gender bias in postings and career development, or the consequences these biases have on the efficiency of administration. What is certain, however, is that despite two decades of affirmative action and four decades of reservation for women in local self-government bodies, real gender parity remains a distant dream. Women who served in the early years of the IAS, the first generation of women to join the IAS after Independence, were offered unattractive postings, were denied senior assignments and faced other gender biases.

    Women in Indian civil service is a book about the first generation of women who joined Indian administrative service in Indian civil service (ICS) and then went on to occupy high positions. I am an ardent believer that a society without women leaders has no future. It is my conviction that it was the contribution of determined, go-getter women in the IAS that inspired a generation of youngsters with high aspirations. Despite the obstacles and hurdles, we have come a long way since those early years. In the long run, perseverance and hard work won the battle against all odds. Over a period of time, women grew in strength and numbers and their presence in IAS training institutes is now a lot more visible, putting male colleagues on the defensive. ‘We were quite often described as submissive wives and not as persons deserving to be in the IAS,’ says a former group captain, who retired recently but requested anonymity. ‘But we were not about to give up our dreams.’

    Women officers were often posted in backward areas, like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and north-eastern states where their job would be to ‘win over the tribal population under being women. Sometimes they were even sent to these areas on deputation to ensure that they did not get married and therefore leave service before retirement or soon after joining as probationers. Even talented women officers with specializations in certain disciplines like forestry or economic reforms would be asked to join as general. Seniority in service was important for the growth of a government officer’s career and it could only be gained by prolonged active duty. Transferring from one post to another did not ensure seniority and complete stagnation at one station could harm the officer’s overall career prospects. A woman officer thus faced a difficult choice: career in service or marriage.

    Manpreet Singh
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    Women IAS officials’ experiences and choices differ from men in certain aspects. If you ask why you want to work in the civil service, women of my generation could give the same answers as men; as for beauty contests, you will have standard and unrepeated responses (job security, pay, benefits, prestige), as well as acceptable responses (public service), and higher doves are a good reason alone for male officers since the IAS often dissuades you from marrying. Once women officials have been in the administration, they are still faced with restrictions imposed by husbands, families, and society. In order to create the foundations of a good public service career, field assignments with 24 daily7 responsibilities are needed Women were generally only allowed to take on occupations if spouses and children were not neglected, which meant that they had to visit workplaces just between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    This meant that women officers could be stationed only in metropolises when transferring to the IAS setting without their spouses or other appropriate men’s escorts and could not work or even travel in rural areas and come home in an acceptable hour for household obligations. Indeed, as similar as feasible to what they may have as academics or officers, they had to have lifestyles. The popular mind has such a mind that a chief electoral officer of Karnataka puts each women’s officer on his list in a district adjacent to Bengaluru when he appoints the senior public servants as electoral observators in different electoral constituency areas of the state so that they can all reach their homes and families in no time! He was surprised when I said I’d rather see the election at a place far from the capital, where I could always meet with political party representatives who could complain about electoral malpractices. In postings and career advancement, sexual bias was also common. Those first women officers (Chonira Belliappa Muthamma in 1948 and Anna George in the administration in 1951) who joined the government were induced with reluctance and caution that they would be forced off, even if they married. Although higher civil services were theoretically open for women since the independence. Patriarchal and misogynistic views were at that time extensively used among colleagues, bosses, and public members about the unsuitable status of women at higher official levels. However, these ladies remained role models that inspired the stars to be reached.

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