Past weekend, I attended a women’s conference. I love such gatherings.
I get to meet women who are doing amazing stuff, building career, businesses and most important, they are building other women.
The common wisdom in the meet up was this – women have to value themselves. And then they need to learn to value their careers.
The locus of control has to be within and not outside.
I can’t agree more.
The other day someone was asking me to do some talk on how men don’t involve women in finances and that they should. And I said, “I will start talking to men when I know women are doing their part.”
Locus of Control and women
I can best explain Locus of control as an answer to a simple question – “who has your leash?”
Internal locus of control is when you believe that your actions, behaviour and attitude are the causes of events happening in your life. You have your own leash.
External locus of control is when you believe that everything in the environment – luck, people, fate, destiny, circumstances – cause your life events. Your leash is in hands of someone else. You are helpless and victim of your fate, luck or circumstances.
You know where I am getting with this, don’t you?
For generations, woman’s locus of control has been served on platter to the males in their lives.
Protective Fathers (who in my opinion have every right to take decisions for you till you grow a responsible head of yourself), brothers and after marriage, to husbands – “Damad Ji, not only is our daughter yours from today, here’s her leash please accept it as an intangible item in the dowry”.
A lot of us urban women have not faced this. A lot have.
I, for example, thankfully have a father who let go of me the first time I wanted to make decision for myself, a brother who NEVER assumed control and a husband who can’t care less if I have a leash or not.
But for a lot of women out there, the situations have been tough.
The locus of control has been out of their reach for so long, that they don’t even know they can bring it inside.
I have to point out that I am talking about women who can speak up, but don’t. I understand a lot of women are dealing with crude sexist reality in life (with husbands, in-laws etc) and I am no one to question them.
One of the speakers, Sneh, explained this beautifully in the conference. She narrated how one employee came to her with resignation because she was getting married and husband has a job in another city. And Sneh asked her, “did you ask him if he can probably find a better opportunity in Bangalore and shift here?” And the girl said, no she did not ask him but she knew he has a good job so why will he shift. And Sneh’s obvious question was, “And what makes you decide that you can?”
We don’t ask men, so no point blaming them.
As soon as a marriage is fixed, it is assumed the woman will quit and shift. And the woman herself decides that. Right off the bat, the planning starts for the city the husband is settled in.
Some women quit their jobs altogether because, “now that I am married, I will take a break”. So marriage becomes a reason.
And we continue to keep this locus of control outside and that is where the second part of the problem arise.
Our attitude towards our career.
Career, not jobs
Just because men in my life were not holding my leash, does not mean I held my leash confidently. I recently realised that for the longest time I myself have wanted these men to make tough decisions for me. I was afraid of establishing an internal locus of control. I wanted to keep it outside.
Until I realised why I was doing that. Why women do it.
It is the way society brings up a girl child.
“Family and husband are most important.”
“Too educated to get married.”
“Marry early, as salary rise it will get difficult to find a groom”. This one cracks me up. Even elders know that if a woman get down to building her career, it will be difficult to find a groom with higher salary than what she earns (which is required why?)
And so women grow up thinking their work life is up for discussion. Whether they work or not. When they should take a break. How far in the city should they travel for work. How much salary is worth the trouble. Etc etc.
And this makes us value our career lesser (and lesser).
We then basically pick one job, leave it at whim. Then pick other, leave it due to circumstances. Then third, leave it due to bad luck.
And this continues till we realise the resume is messed up enough to render us useless for any job.
Job. Because we never got down to building a career anyways. Career is a long term game. Job is as short as short term can get.
And then we feel sorry. We make excuses for break in our career, we become under confident in interviews and wonder how to explain the break.
Problem is not that you took a break, problem is that since your locus of control is outside, you are unable to own up to your decision of taking a break. And so you can’t justify it confidently.
Am I in control?
I am no different, I have also been doing jobs all my life. But I have finally realised that until I take responsibility for my career, it ain’t going anywhere.
And career can be a corporate career or an artistic career or entrepreneurship. Women have to learn to have a career mindset rather than a job mindset.
To bring that locus of control within. To make sure we have our leash.
I most certainly own up to the break I took and so can confidently speak about why I took it and what I did in that period. That much I can do.
Next step is to build a career mindset and a career. Not easy, but quite interesting I must say.
And I am on it.
What about you?
Also published on Medium.