Saturday, March 23, 2013

On why seminars on women should also have male participants


I've just come home from a symposium on Women and Leadership conducted jointly by the Women's Studies Research Center of The M S University (MSU) of Baroda and the Federation of Gujarat Industries (FGI). Among the speakers were the MSU Vice Chancellor Prof Yogesh Singh, Geeta Goradia, FGI President, Rashmi Bansal who had authored the book Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, Shagufa Kapadia and Uma Joshi of the Faculty of Family and Community Sciences, MSU. They spoke of women who have climbed the corporate ladder and others who have become successful entrepreneurs. They talked about how women are good at multi-tasking and why glass ceilings should not exist. I looked around. The auditorium was packed with women. The speakers, except the Vice Chancellor, were all women. Some even applauded “the few brave men” who had come to the symposium. It's strange how most seminars and symposia on women, women's studies and women's businesses have mainly women participants, invitees and speakers. It may be because the men do not want to come but it may also be because the organisers of such events target only women. Why not have a guy come up and talk about women leaders? Why not invite colleges with a male majority (engineering institutes, for example) to such events? Isn't the point of discussing gender on a public platform is to reduce the gap between men and women and their mindsets? It came as a shock to me when one of the women speakers referred to the Delhi rape as the “Delhi violence incident”. What is the point of discussing women and leadership in public, if you can't call rape, rape, that too in front of a largely female audience? I was disappointed, because what promised to be a set of motivational lectures turned into just some advice about how men should deal with women and women should deal with their problems.   

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