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Non-Family Support is a Major Hurdle for Indian Women Employees to Sustain Stable Career FLEXI Careers India’s AVTAR VIEWPORT 2015



FlexiIf women say they believe it’s getting better, what could be dissuading them from ensuring stable career? It may well be that lack of external support system holding most of the women back. FLEXI Careers India’s latest AVTAR VIEWPORT 2015 reveals that lack of access to non-family support is destabilizing the career growth of women employees in India. The study states that only 20% of women employees have non-family support in their mid career stage than compared to 55% of men employees surveyed; which clearly indicates a significant difference of 35%.


The AVTAR VIEWPORT 2015, conducted by FLEXI Careers India, was aimed at tracing the career trajectories of Indian professionals, men and women, over the three active career stages, namely, early, mid and matured in order to understand the drivers of career intentionality they deployed for career progress at each of the different phases.


The survey conducted among 2456 working professionals shows that men employees enjoy a steady increase of non-family support at all levels – EARLY STAGE (46%), MID STAGE (55%) and MATURED STAGE (57%) whereas women employees fall way behind with percentages of 35%, 20% and 33% – showing greater dip especially from early to mid phase – a stage where a large number of them would have got married.


Mentorship – undervalued or simply underutilized? 

Mentorship is often mentioned as a key resource to help advance careers. But do women in India use it at all? According to the survey, mentorship is widely underused and it resulted to be even more worst during the transition period from early to mid stage. The mentorship percentage has come down from 8% (early career level) to 4% (mid career level) indicating a clear dip of 50%; a stage that requires appropriate mentorship to be connected with workforce.


The tendency to idolize a role model rose with age

It was also interesting to find that more men and women in their early career stages preferred to not have a role model, the tendency to idolize a leader rose with age. The percentages of men and women who idolize corporate leaders increased across the stages; from 21% to 26% to 31% in women employees and 22% to 26% to 41% in male employees. But there were more men than women (41% of men as against 31% of women) who idolized corporate leaders in the matured-phases of their careers. This implies greater intentionality amongst men in aspiring for leadership positions.


Commenting on the findings, Dr. Saundarya Rajesh, Founder- Director, AVTAR Career Creators & FLEXI Careers India said,- “When all hygiene factors to increase women’s workforce participation are taken of, what stops women from staying the course in larger numbers?? Does the corporate even have a role to play? Our research says that all things remaining constant, the woman’s intentionality in pursuing a career is revealed in the model she creates for herself. This model can be applied in workplaces too, to positive influence Career intentionality of women”




Majority of professionals at the early stage aspire to gain professional expertise


The most prevalent career aspirations of men in their early career stage

  • Among the surveyed respondents, 66% of the Men professionals aspire to gain professional expertise during the early stage of their career.
  • However, 55% of the men professionals among the surveyed respondents feel that advancement in the organizational hierarchy as a key career aspiration
  • Stating career advancement as the most important priority, 61% of the working men professional aspire for growth and advancement when they move to mid level in their career.
  • At the matured level, 56% of the men professional demonstrated the greatest intent on attaining work life balance

– Women waited till they climb certain segments of the ladder to aspire for career growth:

  • The study revealed that 50% of the surveyed Women respondents aspired for career growth at an early career stage while 59% aspired so at the mid stage of their career.
  • While career growth is a key driving factor for Women Professionals on one hand, 64% of the women professionals aspire to gain professional expertise at the early stage on the other hand.
  • As women move on to the mid and matured stages, work –life balance becomes paramount to them. 72% of women in the mid stage and 64% of those in the matured stage sought better work life balance.
  • It is most probably during the mid career stage (between the ages of 30 and 40) that women have the greatest share of familial responsibilities – child bearing and rearing, elder care and other household chores and it is but natural that a work career is what they aspire for the most. Men at this career stage have probably laid a strong career foundation and are all to set to conquer professional heights that translate to the most important aspiration of career advancement.

Women focus more on ‘career achievement’ than men


Indian Women Professionals gave greater importance to career achievement than men, at any given career stage indicating the greater professionalism women today aspire for:


The survey indicates that 70% of the women respondents in their early career, 63% of mid career women professionals and 64% of matured career women were driven to greater career achievement as against 63%, 62% and 62% of early, mid and matured career men.


  • 67% of the Indian Men Professionals in the mid career level and 66% of the Indian Men Professionals in the matured career stage stated meeting financial goals for the family as the supreme importance.
  • Lesser percentages of women pursued careers for the cause of their family’s financial needs (57% and 49% respectively), which however is a sure up from 38% of early career women proving that as women progress in their careers, they significantly contribute to the financial well being of the family
  • The fact that our society still prescribes to the ‘male breadwinner, female caretaker’ family model was substantiated by the results: while only 4%, 8% and 12% of women at the early, mid and matured stages were breadwinners of their families, 19%, 38% and 37% of men at the three active career stages were breadwinners. Monetary needs are always key career drivers for men, for women this assumes greater significance in the mid and the matured stages.

Men depend more on an external, non-family support system than women

Amongst the early career professionals for men and women:

  • 10% of the men working professionals were supported by their bosses as against the 7% of women professionals being supported by their bosses.
  • 26% of the men respondents and 20% of women respondents are dependent on the support by their friends.
  • 10% by their mentors
  • 8% by their mentors

Projecting a clear case for women to build external networks for mentors and sponsors for their career growth, the survey showcases the following findings:

  • The percentages of women who sought support from external networks did not show any significant change at the mid stage of their career, with 11% of the women professionals getting support from the bosses as opposed to the 17% of the Men respondents getting support from the bosses.
  • 9% of the women respondents and 27% of the men respondents are getting support from friends
  • 4% of the women professionals and 11% of the men professionals are groomed by the mentors.

Men have more corporate role models more than women

The survey indicates that for both men and women, the tendency to idolize a corporate leader rose with the age:

  • The percentages of men and women who idolize corporate leaders increased across the stages. From 21% to 26% to 31% among the Indian Women Professionals and 22% to 26% to 41% among the Indian Men Professionals.
  • There were more men than women (41% of men as against 31% of women) who idolized corporate leaders in the matured-phases of their careers. This implies greater intentionality amongst men in aspiring for leadership positions.

Men progress in careers faster than women; women careers are more prone to breaks

The career growth rate of men was greater as compared to women:

  • 49% of Indian men professionals are donning senior level executive positions (GM/VP/CXO) at the matured stage as against 36% of the Indian women professionals.
  • While the percentages of men who took career break increased with the career stage they are at.  9% in early career to 10% at mid career to 15% at matured career.

For women this peaked at the mid level and fell as women broke the notorious glass ceiling and progressed to matured career stages .

  • 14% of early career women took breaks.
  • 22% of women took breaks when they were at the mid career stage
  • 20% at the advanced career stage
  • The study reveals that the tendency for career break is highest amongst women at the mid stage of the career when juggling professional and personal commitments tend to weigh them down resulting in a leaking talent pipeline of women.

Therefore, it becomes highly imperative for both organizations and women alike to work on building on the Career Intentionality before they enter the mid phase of their career.


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