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No High Table for Women

  • Published
    30th Jun, 2023


  • With the rise in the number of women entrants, the services have yet another chance to reflect on their talent retention and advancement policies such that the high-table is not just a preserve of men.

Gender Gap in higher Bureaucracy:

  • Skewed selection ratio: There is a scarcity of women in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) as the recruitment rules were biased in favour of men.
  • Marriage as criteria to leave services: Only unmarried women are favoured to join the services and requiring them to resign if they got married.
  • Top rankers are not at top positions: The numbers women candidate get in Civil services examination do not indicate how many will reach top leadership positions in the services.

Reasons for lack of women representation:

  • Lack of structural changes to include Women: By 1991, women officers were either at junior ranks or faced on-going systemic issues that hindered their progress to senior positions.
  • Mistrust in women's abilities overshadowed their postings: Women were predominantly considered suitable for "soft" departments, and India has yet to see a woman hold positions.
  • Lack of Opportunity: As women are expected to consider their Family first then their roles and jobs, they are considered less preferable for top positions especially in ministry of Defence, external affairs etc.

Progress steps for women:

  • Top organisations taking stand: Organisations like the IMF and the World Bank can serve as revolving doors through which talent came to India.
  • Prefer women for untouched roles: Women should reach top leadership positions in critical ministries such as finance, commerce and industry, home affairs, and defense.
  • To reflect talent-based positions: It is crucial for the bureaucracy to reflect on their talent retention and advancement policies, ensuring that women have equal opportunities to reach leadership positions.
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