Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hiring Women in Pakistan (Revisited)

This post is with reference to AKS’s earlier post (with the masochistic title regarding the employability of women in Pakistan) and the subsequent discussion in the comments.

Ill try and split the issue into two parts.

Express Declarations

Firstly, any business has to make a business decision. It’s not required to presume, contrary to an express indication from a candidate, that the candidate is question is willing to stay post marriage. That would be ridiculous, and the fact that AKS’s firm has done so in the past is down to their own silly unwillingness to believe what they’re told and capitalize on a candidates candour.

Imputing a Motive

Now to impute that eventuality to all female candidates is a trickier issue. From AKS's firm's perspective, they have previously experienced that most of their employed women, from a certain background have followed a certain course. Is that experience, which has proved so damaging to the firm (in the business sense) to be ignored when the firm is required to make a business decision about hiring and firing?

Ill give a slightly different example to try answer that question.

On occasion, multinational companies in Pakistan actually refrain from hiring male candidates from certain, good universities, because those candidates never settle into the company, and always try to hop on to higher paid jobs at smaller local companies after acquiring the credibility stamp from a multinational. In that respect, those candidates are being discriminated against, in that a motive is being imputed to them on the basis of a combination of their gender and educational background.

Those same multinational companies however will hire a lot of ‘vilayat returned’ (‘VR’) women and also middle class women from the same universities, because the companies know that the VR women appreciate the relatively safety guaranteed by a multinational working environment, wheras the middle class women are additionally especially drawn by the pay package. So in this instance, companies are positively discriminating in favor of both sets of women and against equivalent male candidates from certain universities, due to the motives imputed to each group on the basis of their gender and background.

Interestingly, those same women defend the positive discrimination that assisted their recruitment. They argue that it was fair for them to receive preference because criterion such as loyalty, commitment, and a firms previous experience with a certain group of candidates are all relevant factors that should be considered during the recruitment process.

So if all those factors are relevant, they are relevant notwithstanding whether they deliver a result that in effect discriminates for or against women, and AKS is entitled to impute those motives and to judge accordingly.


Interestingly, because AKS’s firm is not a multinational, the issue boils down to making presumptions on a background + gender basis rather than a purely gender basis. In the absence of big pay sums, VR women may stay given a certain working environment (which AKS firm may or may not provide), whereas middle class women seem unlikely to do so. Consequently, the statement in the previous post should have run as follows:
“If you’re a small to medium size firm with relatively shallow pockets (as opposed to a giant multinational), be very wary of hiring unmarried middle class women who haven’t expressly stated/demonstrated their commitment to remaining post marriage, unless you're hiring them as a PR officer or receptionist”
But before I get called whatever stuff I’m about to be called (due to my defense of AKS’s asininely titled and characteristically offensive post), let me reassure readers that my 'generalization' is a work in progress, and is very much open to suggestion and further qualification.


Ahsan said...

I feel like there should be something about the woman being from a "good family". Lord knows she wouldn't get a rishta if she wasn't. So my editing of NB's generalization would be as follows:

“If you’re a small-medium size firm with relatively shallow pockets (as opposed to a giant multinational), be very wary of hiring unmarried middle class women who haven’t expressly stated/demonstrated their commitment to remaining post marriage, unless you're hiring them as a PR officer or receptionist, or unless they happen to be from a family that is Not Good."

AKS said...

Hey, I object to you calling my post title asinine. Your face is asinine!

Now I'm going to go have some tea and crumpets and play some croquet with my new best friend in the world. Tiddly Wink!

goc said...

honestly ... the statement might be too specific. Cause I can vouch for the fact that being richer than middle-class doesn't necessary guarantee immunity from a good rishta. Its pretty standard procedure world-wide to ask "where do you see yourself" questions during a job interview. And while in most places a "are you gonna get hitched in the next 3 years" might get a company a law suit on their hands, there is no such danger in Pakistan.
And the chances of the prospective hire answering honestly are probably no different from the overall rate of honesty in job-interview questions.

bubs said...

So AKS made a valid point in the most hyperbolic way he possibly could. Isn't that the definition of blogging?

Faiza said...

If we are going to make assumptions and draw up paradigms of when it is possible to discriminate in a hiring process, we might as well turn the problem on it's head and examine the social issues here. So Ms X wants to leave for 6 whole months just to get married and she may never come back to work. Now to put the blame on society would be too easy so let's narrow it down and look at men's attitudes to their wives working. I would like the writers of this blog to lay aside their current love interests for the moment and imagine they are Ms X's fiancé.

Imagine Ms X only takes her 2 weeks holiday to get married. Then she comes right back and continues working and progressing in her field. She eventually gets promoted and has more responsibilities and therefore spends more and more time at work. She comes home later than you. She may have to work through the night at times (being a lawyer is hard work). She gets a hefty pay rise and earns more than you. She is the one to start saving up for the kid's education. The time comes to have a baby but she insists on you helping out and even taking some paternity leave. A long maternity leave risks interrupting her career too much. You have good help but you both still have to alternate some days when one of you gets back from work early to be with the kid, help with homework, play w/ legos, take them to the doctor, dentist, vet, whatever. You have enough money for the kid's college fund and you can take nice holidays in the sun/rain somewhere. It doesn't sound very Pakistani does it? Taking one of NB's quotes cruelly out of context, where in the world will your wife find time to have 6 kids, go to the gym to retain her figure and still excel in her field? Maybe you just want someone average who can give up her job when something more important (like you) comes along? Which one of you 'modern' men is going to claim otherwise? If you do then my point fails but then tell me how many other men you know would?

So maybe we should try and fix men instead of women? I have another asinine solution. How about only hiring men who let their wives work and aren't threatened by them? Admittedly, half of Pakistan will come to a grinding halt but I'm sure the women can more than make up for them.

changinguppakistan said...

I think Faiza explained my earlier sentiment much better than I could. In my earlier comment, I didn't mean to say the post wasn't interesting, just that the comments raised much larger questions about the role of women in society, and in particular, Pakistan. We all know the reality, many women have no choice but to leave their jobs once they get married - it is what society expects of them. But what can we do, as more educated and (I hope) enlightened younger people, to change such perceptions? Can't we question the notions behind that status quo rather than giving into stereotype? I didn't mean to go all femi-nazi on you guys before, it was a well-written post, just one that would of course fuel intense debate.

Ali said...

faiza, tu as le numero de mlle x?

ismat said...

so AKS, i see this conversation of ours found its way to fiverupees.

slight misogyny notwithstanding, i think we all need to acknowledge the reality of the situation a little despite the virtue of the argument against it.

my father is an architect and has spent some years teaching the trade as well. in his time, the ratio of men to women taking up architecture as a major in college was the complete opposite of what it is now. i think it's currently about 8 females to every male graduating from the indus valley school of art and architecture with a bachelors in architecture. why this has changed is another topic for another day, but a dirty and very obvious summary is because architecture simply doesn't earn you as much as banking or multinational-ing.

khair. although you can argue that it's fantastic that more women are taking up and being respected in an erstwhile 'macho' profession, the fact is that only 2 of those 8 female graduates ever go on to practice architecture for longer than 3-4 years. besides the financial concern for employers similar to that delineated by AKS in his first post, what does this mean for the future of architecture in Pakistan?

usman said...

We have lot of jobs only for women's so if you are interested you can log on to

somethingrichandstrange said...

awww nb you're adorable for trying :)
but faiza wins, sorry.