Campaign India Team
Feb 13, 2009

Is Indian media unfair to women achievers?

Campaign India asks women achievers if they feel they are being short-changed by the news media in India  The recently concluded India Today Woman Summit saw an eclectic mix of women achievers from across fields. The summit had various panel discussions on the concerns that working women have, the problems that they face, the questions they want answers to and the changes they want to see being incorporated.

Is Indian media unfair to women achievers?

Campaign India asks women achievers if they feel they are being short-changed by the news media in India
 
The recently concluded India Today Woman Summit saw an eclectic mix of women achievers from across fields. The summit had various panel discussions on the concerns that working women have, the problems that they face, the questions they want answers to and the changes they want to see being incorporated.

While Indian working women are striving hard to achieve that perfect balance between the work life and personal lives, has Indian media been fair to all those who have reached the top slots inspite of everything? Campaign India decided to ask five successful women in their fields if they feel that media is unfair to women achievers.

In the field of advertising and marketing, Indian media is not unfair to women achievers, feels Lara Balsara, business development and diversification manager, Madison. She cites the example of Madison which has women heads for as many as six of its units and are aptly covered by the media.

Madhabi Puri Buch, MD and CEO, ICICI Securities feels that in the corporate world, women achievers actually have a distinct advantage. “We get more than our fair share of the spotlight, simply because we are fewer in number. “

She adds, “I think that there are many male colleagues who have an equal number of achievements that I have to my name, but perhaps don’t have the same spotlight.”

Many women achievers also believe that that media is tilted towards glamour and thus the real women achievers often get neglected. “Real women achievers from lower rung classes are definitely neglected. When we are meeting in a conclave like this, we are not even talking about 2% of India’s women population,” says Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal of theatre company, Poor Box Productions. “At the corporate level, women achievers are not written about as much as women who are a part of the Page 3 culture. So the media is unfair to them in that sense,” she adds.

Kaveree Bamzai, executive editor, India Today Woman is also of the same view. “I think the media is unfair to all achievers regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, the accent is so much on glamour and on who is a celebrity and who’s not. I think the whole notion of achievement has sort of become diluted. There is a celebrity culture obsession where a Rakhi Sawant or a Mika are more popular than, say, someone who has brought electricity to a village or brought IT to a village. So, I don’t think it is unfair to women achievers; it’s unfair to all achievers. I suppose if you are a woman, obviously you are expected to be glamorous and success is measured that way, so that gets accentuated,” she says.

Shalini Kamath, director - HR and communications, Ambit RSM, feels that media should look for the women who are at number two and three positions in a company, the younger women, how they are coping and what the ecosystem they are part of is. “Media has the power to make the change and they can only make that change when they reveal all these other stories that are there,” she says.
 


Kaveree Bamzai, executive editor, India Today Woman

“I don’t think it is unfair to women achievers, I think it is unfair to all achievers regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, the accent is so much on glamour and on who is a celebrity and who’s not. I think the whole notion of achievement has sort of become diluted. There is a celebrity culture obsession where a Rakhi Sawant or a Mika are more popular than say someone who has brought electricity to a village or brought IT to a village. So, I don’t think it is unfair to women achievers; it’s unfair to all achievers. I suppose if you are a woman, you are expected to be glamorous and success is measured that way, so that gets accentuated.  ”
 


Madhabi Puri Buch, MD and CEO, ICICI Securities

“I would say that in the corporate world, women achievers actually have a distinct advantage. May be it is just the novelty of the issue and  metaphorically speaking, women add colour to the whole group. So, it’s different. We get more than our fair share of the spotlight, simply because we are fewer in number. I think that there are many male colleagues who have an equal number of achievements that I have to my name, but perhaps don’t have the same spotlight.So I would argue that we get more than our fair share. ”
 



Shalini Kamath, MD- HR and corp comm, Ambit Holdings

“They are not unfair but the only thing that I have noticed is that it is the same set of achievers who are covered again and again. As a result, there are some that have risen to that level of prominence where they are able to share their views. There are many other women achievers who may not be CEOs but may be in the second or the third levels. They deserve to be covered as well. Women achievers, per se, do get adequately covered because if you see the man-woman ratio, it is the same ratio that gets reflected in the media. I would encourage media to look for those number twos and threes: how they are coping and what is the ecosystem that they are part of.”
 


Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Poor Box Productions

“It depends on what your idea of achievement is. If you are talking about Page 3 women achievers, then media is in favour of those. Women, who really work for a cause, are not treated unfairly by media but media is not very caring towards them. I, as an individual, have never ever suffered that. May be that is because my work is different and in-your face. Real women achievers from lower rung classes are definitely neglected. At corporate level, women achievers are not written about as much as women who are a part of the page 3 culture. So the media is unfair to them in that sense.”
 


Lara Balsara, bus. dev.and diversification manager, Madison

“I don’t think that the Indian media is unfair to women achievers. Especially in our advertising and media industry, there are lots of women achievers and I guess they all get the recognition that they deserve. If I take the Madison example, amongst our several units we have lots of women heading those respective units (about six of them). They are in strong leadership positions. Even the women in corporate sector have been given their due credit by India media. I don’t think there is a need to differentiate between a woman and a man. A leader is a leader, whether you are a man or a woman.”
 

(Pictured, left to right) Deepika Mehta, Celebrity yoga trainer; Koel Purie, Actor and TV Host; Rina Dhaka, Fashion designer; Anisha Motwani, Executive Vice President - Marketing & Chief Marketing Officer - New Markets SBU, Max New York Life and Perizaad Zorabian, Actor and Homemaker at the India Today Woman Summit & Awards '09. Photo: Bhaskar Paul/ India Today

Source:
Campaign India

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