You know those days at work when it feels you're going all Paula Abdul (two steps.....) It can be a lonely feeling and we sometimes think it's "just us". It's not. Women around the world are working together to support each other in creating success. It's just sometimes hard to feel that.
So - we decided to help. Lean In India's Rashmeet Kaur reached out to Passion Collective recently to propose a partnership to help share ideas about how to positively impact women's opportunities. We jumped at the chance to create a global connection to women who are striving for many of the same things as us, every day, yet often, under more trying circumstances.
Here's Rashmeet's story.
What's your background?
I am a valley girl from Dehradun who has spent most of her life in Mumbai and have been in New Delhi for my career. I am a mechanical and automation engineer and currently I work with Honda Cars India Limited.
How did you get involved with Lean In India? What does it mean to you?
It really has been life changing for me. I have been “leaning in” for three years now, after facing gender stereotyping as a child and during my career as a mechanical engineer. It started when Sheryl Sandberg became an icon for me in my freshman year, when I heard her amazing TED talk.
I began a Lean In circle under the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women chapter in 2014. I helped mentor 10 young women in overcoming their emotional barriers, taking initiative and responsibility for their lives and defining new goals. We made a video of our progress, which went viral after Sheryl shared it, so there was no turning back after that!
In May 2015, I helped launch the Lean In Council at Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women with soon grew to 300 members. In October 2015, I started Lean In Mechanical Engineers, a chapter that promotes women in heavy industry. During this time, a group of us formed "Team Panthera" for the global design competition SAE Supermileage 2016 (where you build a Supermileage vehicle in one year.) We competed in the USA and ranked 7th globally!
I now co-lead Lean In India with Sanya Khurana. We work with schools to break down gender stereotypes by focusing on two main subjects: sex education and the promotion of technology.
What challenges do women face in India?
We face similar challenges but we have a heavier path to success. Both societal pressure and internal barriers bring us down. Ours is a very patriarchal society and women’s safety and gender stereotyping from a very young age leads to a lack of confidence which results in a far lower contribution of women to India’s success.
Tell about Spotlight. Why did you start it, and what are you hoping it achieves?
Spotlight is an online magazine which I started to talk about passionate mavericks. I wanted to use media to change people’s mind-set and bring a paradigm shift in the society. Instead of talking about those who are already famous and successful, I wanted to talk about those who have seen success yet are trying to advance their lives further with passion and persistence. By highlighting the efforts of everyday people, I believe we can motivate more people to keep moving positively towards their dreams.
What can learn from women in India?
Women in India face much said and unsaid bias. Yet, we have countless successful and ambitious women. We are not brought down by our constraints. If an Indian woman is at the top, the respect for her grows ten-fold, because despite the barriers that women face, she has fought many battles to get there, such as standing up for herself, proving to her family that she is worth it, and rebelling against an ecosystem that would have demeaned her given a chance.
We are definitely having a shift of mentalities in India with supportive parents and husbands and organizations like Lean In, which help challenge the societal pressures. It’s not all mean and patriarchal. It is a matter of choice to either continue seeing yourself as the weaker gender or start standing up for oneself.
If Passionados would like to connect with like-minded women in India, what’s the best way of doing it?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be more than happy to connect to the network of Lean In India marvels!