Women, You Want To Succeed? Then Step Up!

Step Up is the first book by Dr Anju Jain, HR head at Caterpillar India and founder of personality development portal, Chai Pe. It has a refreshing take on how women can live up to their potential at work, home and everywhere in between.

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It’s not women empowerment. It’s self development.

Said Dr Jain, “I’m not at all a feminist, in fact I love men - frankly speaking, the word empowerment has been overused and misconstrued. This book is not necessarily about women empowerment, nor is it a book calling for equal rights. Step Up is a book that takes real life experiences and teaches you how to develop your own personal brand and become the best version of yourself possible.”

Women can’t have it all

“We need to first define what “all” means. If by “all” we mean have a stellar career, the perfect family, and an overall perfect life, then no. Women can’t have it all, no one can. For the past 3 or 4 years this conception has been popularized and it’s rather misleading. Women in India have put themselves under immense pressure trying to balance expectations from in laws, from bosses and from society to be this effortlessly perfect individual. That should stop.”

“In Step Up, I tried to leave behind a legacy of teaching women better strategies to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and still meet all your goals to become a successful person,” Dr Jain further said.

The onus is on women

Dr Jain has interviewed a number of leading women for her book including Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the richest self made woman in India, and Sonia Singh, editorial director at NDTV.

Ms. Singh says, “Most of India’s leading educational institutions have so many female toppers. They start working, then give up on their careers mid way. When such absolutely brilliant minds leave the work force, not only does it lead to low women representation in the corporate set up, it also bleeds the country of much needed great leadership.”

Author of the book, Dr Jain added, “We speak a lot about equal rights and representation of women. But really, the onus lies with women. Women must take the initiative to dispel societal misconceptions.”

Their point is women perhaps give themselves too many reasons to back out of the race a bit too early.

Recorded in Step Up is Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw’s message to women and that follows a similar vein: “One should never adopt a self-defeating belief that there is a glass ceiling beyond which they cannot soar. The glass ceiling is a perception and women with talent and determination must keep on chipping away till it is smashed.”

Spouses and society must step up too

Dr Jain quips, “Men had the support of family and a loving wife who helped them succeed. Unfortunately women don’t have loving wives, so husbands will have to step up and help their wives succeed.”

The author is referring to how men are critical to women’s success. She quotes T V Mohandas Pai, “Men have to understand that women are very important for the economy to grow…Women have more buying power and are decision makers. They need to be given the space to voice their opinions and ideas.”

Dr Jain maintains that women can’t succeed as lone warriors. Policymakers, the media and society at large have a role to play in helping women step up.

Dr Jain writes, “When women don’t feel empowered to exercise their choices or to lead their lives freely, clearly society has held back in giving back in equal status. To change this, laws and policies need to reflect a different belief system in order to counter prevalent norms. Media can actively partner in this quest by ensuring appropriate messages are conveyed to the audience and by depicting women in empowering roles.”

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