CHENNAI: It is not just those in the IT companies but women employed in other sectors too are victims of income disparity which the activists blame on the lack of awareness among women, implementation of laws and transparency of employers.
Over the years, women have come out of their shell to excel in various fields, work in senior posts and even head companies. Nevertheless, activists in the city say, they are underpaid compared to the opposite sex, and it all stems from the notion that women are only secondary earners in the family.
“Because women are considered inferior, their jobs are also considered inferior. Earlier, when men and women rolled the same number of beedis, women were still paid less. It was gender discrimination. Today, with the reason that men do the hard labour like in construction sites and hence paid more, there is still indirect discrimination,” said U Vasuki of CPM and a trade union leader.
Further, activists point out that it is the traditional thought that women are cheap labour that has been followed over the years. “Right from agriculture, construction, sales or teaching, women are considered cheap labour though they would be doing a tougher job than others,” said lawyer Sudha Ramalingam.
“Women are also not considered for permanent apprenticeship as it is thought that they would leave after marriage or delivery. It is another point to ponder that the attrition rates are high,” she added.
Though one might think that it is their lack of skill to negotiate pay that lands them in underpaid jobs, activists pinpoint that the fault is on the lack of awareness about the laws among women employees while a lack of transparency on pay packets on the side of the employer too attributes to pay gap. “First, women themselves don’t know that they are victims of discrimination and are underpaid. They have to first realise that and start voicing against it,” said KR Renuka, Director, Centre for Women’s Development and Research.