Women on the rise in higher education, but continue to remain absent from the workforce

From piloting military aircrafts to heading wildlife safaris, Indian women wear many hats with effortless grace. However, reports from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19 shows that women form just 24% in 127 institutions of national importance. While the number of women enrolling themselves for higher education rose by 1,350 per cent in 2017-18, less than 30% of working-age women are active in the workforce, as compared to 80% of men. 

3 out of 4 women choose to shoulder the responsibilities of home and family, conditioned by traditional values entrenched in patriarchy. In addition, owing to marriage and child-rearing, women are forced to give up their careers. Oxfam India reports that a mere 27% of the present workforce comprises of women, down from 35% in 1990. Along with the declining overall job growth, a number of social and cultural factors can also be responsible for women choosing to stay home.

Reasons for the lack of women’s participation in the workforce

Firstly, many women fear for their safety at the workplace. Sexual crimes have increased sharply, even in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. Others prefer to study but have no intention to take up employment. Nonetheless, regressive mindsets and conservative families are major inhibiting factors.

Some women inevitably fall far too behind the curve in terms of work skills after a long sabbatical, and this leads to a predictable gap in pay and promotion prospects, resulting in many giving up working altogether.

Ways to boost the employment of women


·    Law enforcement agencies and employers must be adequately sensitized to the menace of sexual harassment faced by women, both in public places and at work. Human Resource managers must counsel women employees from time to time to help them report any incidents of sexist nature.

·    Vigil at public transit points like railway stations must be intensified to apprehend miscreants targeting women commuters.

Skill deficit

·    A growing number of women do not return to work after pregnancy as they need to look after their children. Thus, childcare facilities are crucial for women to consider working again. Alternatively, telecommute or remote working options should be made available to new mothers, depending on the industry.

·    The inevitable skill gap following a prolonged period of absence is another hindering factor. To stay competitive in the job market, women must ensure their skills do not deteriorate. Short term internships or freelance assignments can help build a portfolio to return to their careers. 

Family support

·    It is important for families to recognise that gender bias is a relic of the past. The need of the hour is to respect and encourage the career aspirations of women. 

What makes Banking an ideal career for women?

Traditionally, banking jobs have been sought after by both, men and women. However, for women, in particular, this industry offers a number of benefits:

·    Career growth

A banking career gives women the freedom to explore a variety of verticals, depending on their interests, including corporate, institutional, forex and consumer products, among others. Lateral movement opportunities help women build their credentials and make a substantial contribution.

·    Work-life balance

Banks have introduced many women-friendly policies to help them thrive professionally as well as give their families enough time. Apart from flexible leave policies, women employees can request transfer to a location of their choice to avoid having to live away from their families.

·    Compensation and benefits

In terms of compensation, the average salary offered by banks compares well to that of other sectors. Other benefits include paid leave of up to two years in case of personal emergencies, comprehensive medical insurance and performance-based incentives.

·    Long term careers

A banking job is generally immune to job cuts and arbitrary termination. Given the size of the financial sector in India, a long-term career is assured to women in the banking industry.

HDFC Bank Future Bankers Program- Preparing You for a Fulfilling Career in Banking

In partnership with Sikkim Manipal University, a leading professional education institution, HDFC Bank brings to you a one-year full-time program that can equip participants with skills to pursue a banking career at India’s No.1 Bank.

The Future Bankers program prepares participants for success with a course structure that puts equal emphasis on practical training in addition to conceptual learning. The program includes six months of classroom training and six months of internship at HDFC Bank. On successful completion of the course, candidates are awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Sales and Relationship Banking from Manipal University. The eligible ones will get a job with HDFC Bank and can start a fulfilling banking career. 

To know more about the Future Bankers Program, click here.