Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We'll have more women employees, if we only had a separate restroom

Since my earlier post re men vs women engineers, I have had several discussion with our offshore counterparts on why they don't have as many female employees. Something they mentioned a week or so ago was particularly funny, but also a harsh reminder of some of the unusual (from a western point of view) infrastructural challenges:

Here's the issue: the office has only 1 restroom (for a staff of about 10). And women employees don't like that.

And they aren't unique in this challenge. Most of the office buildings have restrooms built as an afterthought, and even if they have multiple restrooms, even allocated as "Ladies" and "Gentlemen" (part of old colonial legacy) -- the allocations aren't honored all the time. So, a typical complaint across all women staff is the lack of clean, and more importantly, dedicated restroom facilities.

Now, I doubt if this is a key reason for the lack of female engineers -- but in a generally reserved culture, I'm bound to assume that the female employees don't discuss this issue as much with the management, and the management (usually male) doesn't think much of the issue either to actually take some actions. Maybe it's too trivial, not core to the business -- whatever, but it is an issue nevertheless. Maybe offshore locations plagued by high turnover problems can use this as a differentiator for retention.

I should point out that our offshore counterpart has a female president.


Agyaat said...

Nice to hear on those issue where management people have not thought yet(I believe, they will soon start thinking on these issue).

Atlast, glad to know your offshore partner has a lady president.


Poons said...

Having an afternoon drink with a friend last Sunday, we found ourselves sitting beside a trendy twentysomething couple whose conversation we could overhear all too clearly.
Actually, it was just a monologue by the young woman, who spelled out each of the banal uninteresting problems and worries that plagued her life.

All of her mind-numbing anxieties - about work, her friends, what to buy someone for their birthday - were articulated in excruciating detail over the next two hours in a grating, whining voice.
Read more: Why men and women have nothing in common (except sex)

Kango Inc. (aka Elliott N) said...

This is a hilarious post. Does anyone remember Ally McBeal? didn't they have a shared bathroom too? probably pretty different circumstances than your offshore partner.

Its actually really hard to hire women in the Valley. We have been reaching out aggressively through Women of the Web, Women 2.0, and other groups and still have mostly men at our new company, Kango, Inc.