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The glass ceiling and the Indian corporate woman

A study says women's employment participation has grown to 31 per cent in 2005 from 26 per cent in 2000—the first rise seen in decades, reports Radhika Pancholi.

business Updated: Jan 20, 2008 21:44 IST
Radhika Pancholi
Radhika Pancholi
Hindustan Times

They may have had to face the glass ceiling at work, but the Indian woman is finally getting her place in the sun. With a number of women now going on to hold important posts in some of the world's biggest companies, a study "XX Factor, the impact of working women on India's growth," couldn't have come at a more opportune moment.

The study, which was presented by Roopa Purushothaman, Chief Economist, The Future Group at a roundtable discussion organised by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) says that women's employment participation (the number of women working as a share of working-age women) grew to 31 per cent in 2005 from 26 per cent in 2000—the first rise seen in decades.

"The discussion of this report also brought out important factors such as how a woman's relationship with her mother-in-law played an important role on the impact of the quality of work for a working woman," Sharon Bamford, COO, UKIBC, told

Hindustan Times

adding that the discussion threw light on how improved relations at home can help a woman in balancing home and work. "India is one of those few countries where modern living co-exists with tradition and this is one feature that only women can exploit to its full potential and play an important part in the economic growth of the country," Bamford said.

According to the study, a big part of improving this dynamic will be increasing women's work participation, which in turn could be one of the most powerful ways to boost economic growth, incomes and consumption over the long run.

"Recent data signal the first rise in decades for women's work participation. More women entering the workforce could add $35 billion to GDP over the next five years, lifting incremental demand by 10 per cent. The XX trend could make Indians 5 per cent richer than otherwise projected by 2015 and 12 per cent richer by 2025," the report said.

"Consumption gains could be felt most in financial services, educational services, retail and leisure and entertainment. Branded goods should also stand out as a major beneficiary," Bamford said adding that for all this to occur, generating enough jobs still remains a key factor.