Economic Centeredness of Indian Women Professionals

Indian women and money have always shared a salient bond; their ability to manage the household budgets amidst soaring commodity prices, their determination to save every penny possible, to name a few.
Post liberalization and opening up of the economy in 1992, an increased number of women professionals have entered the corporate world witnessing a jump in the workforce participation rate of women from 17% in 1992 to 24% in 2012.

This has established a greater connection between women and money. In the backdrop of an economy hit by inflation and recession, it is imperative to examine the economic centeredness of Indian Women.
This study was initiated with this intent and Introduction was conducted on a highly diverse sample of Indian Women Professionals (IWPs), who were in forms of employment as different as full time employment to flexible working and those on career breaks, young and old, who belonged to different parts of the country and had distinctly different socio, economic and educational profiles.
Their economic centeredness was assessed in three segments namely,
a) Significance of earnings and careers thereof
b)Financial Independence
c)Financial Literacy Significance of Women’s Earnings: With dual-earning couples becoming a fairly common phenomenon in the urban segments of our country, it is important to understand how significant women’s earnings are to their families.
It has been proven that women have a natural tendency to invest their incomes in children’s education and health, the result being a healthier and better educated younger generation.
The Word Development Report on [1] Gender Equality and Development released by World Bank showed that a woman’s income correlated positively with the number of years her children spent in school.
Further, the ability to earn significantly impacts the confidence levels of Indian Women.
Moreover, women tend to garner greater societal respect by virtue of bringing home pay packets.
The urge to earn amongst women is no longer negatively perceived as their money-mindedness and society have recognized this as a direct consequence of their higher educational attainments. It is no surprise then that financial security is one of the top drivers of women’s careers. Financial Independence:
The second very important aspect of determining economic centeredness of IWPs is their extent of financial independence. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Page 4 of 23 Intent of the study is to assess the economic centeredness of Indian Women Professionals (IWPs) Women exhibit greater confidence and get greater societal respect when they earn.
FLE I The Future of CWCORK Economic Centeredness of Indian Women Professionals Page 5 of 23 Gap Index, 2012, ranked India 123rd on a total of 135 countries in the disparity between economic participation of the two [2] genders. In such a context, it is vital to understand the distribution of ownership of money earned by Indian women.
It is known that the average age at which Indian children leave home is amongst the [3] highest in the world. This implies that irrespective of marital statuses, women are not exactly independent in the Indian socio-cultural milieu, economically. Married women who are active professionals may have accounts jointly with their spouses; single women tend to depend on elders in their families for managing their finances.
Their powers of decision making in financial matters are limited and have restricted scopes for growth. Guilt that form a consistent part of women’s consciences mar them when they spend money that is not their own. Even when the causes justify their reasons for spending, they continue to feel obliged when they spend money earned by others. For India to achieve true gender equality, it is important that women are allowed complete autonomy over money they earn; power to spend it, to invest it and allocate budgets on it in ways they deem fit, should solely be theirs. Importance of financial literacy: If women are to be fully independent financially, it is crucial for them to be adequately financially literate. Only then would their income bring them returns beneficial to the nation’s progress. Hence, it was decided that financial literacy of various cohorts of IWPs need to be ascertained to draw conclusions on their economic centeredness; this formed the third segment of this study. Capabilities of IWPs in saving, budgeting and investing their money are tangible measures of their financial literacy.
In an era where privatized and nationalized banks and other financial institutions are competing against each other to offer lucrative schemes of saving and investing, the knowledge professional women have on the reliability of each of these help them make informed decisions when needed; secure futures of their earnings is ensured.
When women are confident of their abilities to allocate funds to various requirements of their lives, they tend to learn the art of smart budgeting over years; experience lending them experts.
Economists and social scientists world over agree that financial considerations significantly impact the career decisions of women. With that said, indicators of their economic centeredness could also serve as reflectors of their career aspirations.
Just as earning prowess of women have been accepted and even appreciated, multiple dimensions of the money women relationships should be allowed to grow (which sustainable women’s careers can assure) through collective efforts of IWPs’ professional and personal ecosystems.