Just this morning I read that MongoDB’s CEO is stepping down to spend more time with his family and in his announcement he lamented that nobody ever asks him how he balances career and family, the top question usually put across to women leaders.
It is a given that managing home and family is a woman’s job. Career, if any, comes as an after thought. Or, so it seems if you watch the Indian commercials.
So far, she is the one who washes clothes to sparkling white, cooks up dashing dinners and worries about kids’ nutrition needs in addition to lending a pretty face for personal care products.
There has been a welcome change off late and serious women are beginning to make an appearance. The brands finally seem to be cashing in on the changing social scene.
Two commercials in particular, caught my eye.
First one is from the leading mobile network provider Airtel, which created quite a sensation when it first came out. It depicts a meeting room where the boss assigns a subordinate a tough piece of work with a tight timeline. As the poor employee slogs away at his desk, his wife calls and tempts him to come home for dinner by showing what’s cooking through a video call.
Surprise, surprise – the beautiful lady and the chef rolled into one, is none other than the boss and the reason behind his late night at work. (Watch the ad here – http://youtu.be/T9BlI9nhqTE)
The second one is quite a contrast. It shows an insurance agent, sitting at a salon getting her toes done, while explaining an insurance policy to a customer on the phone. (http://youtu.be/uLOnvASsPy4)
This lady is clad in trousers, but wears a bindhi, typical Indian style – a merry fusion of western formal wear and traditional Indian symbols.
She is taking a business call during her personal time, much like the most of the real “us” out there, juggling work, home and personal needs precariously on the scale of work-life balance. She brings to your mind the thousands of women making the mad rush to their offices in Mumbai’s trains on week day mornings.
The Airtel lady on the other hand, is in a saree, graceful and very boss-like. She assigns the work and deadline with confidence, drives back home and dives straight into cooking dinner in her state of the art kitchen. She whips up pasta (not your ordinary roti and dal) with no visible help on hand.
She almost makes having a career and functional home look sexy. (The husband still gets to be the man who works hard and comes home to a hot dinner cooked by the wife. )
Interestingly different portrayals. One realistic; one more of wishful thinking.
Whatever be the reaction to these ads, in a country where most major banks are led by women, a career woman finally has become main stream. I like that.