According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, 64% of urban women and 60% of rural women are engaged in domestic work, which means they have to manage a household. But what many people don’t realize is that managing a household is as good as managing your own full-fledged business. Many of these 64% of women do this full-time, and some even do it part time after they finish their actual 9-5 jobs. And not-so-surprisingly, it’s all very organized and compartmentalized.
Human Resource Management
Human resource management is an important part of any company. And this is also a big part of running a household. Most Indian households hire help, whether in the form of a cook, a nanny, a cleaner or a combination of the three. Managing this workforce is not an easy task. It involves negotiating salaries, hiring and firing, performance reviews and scheduling. You even have to account for vacation and sick leave, in which case you have to look for a temp. But this is also instrumental in allowing Indian women to break the glass ceiling. Professional woman, Naina Lal Kidwai says in her book that without her house help she would not have been able to become Chairperson of HSBC India. She says, “There was support and care from that great institution in India—the ayah. I was fortunate to have Janki—who had brought up my sister and me as kids—come back to keep an eye on our daughter, Kemaya, as she grew up.”
And that’s just the workforce, there’s also managing the actual members of the family. The woman of the house is the one who often takes on the role of conflict resolution between members of the family. She listens to complaints and finds the appropriate solutions. She also delegates the tasks, like chores, to the different members of the family to make sure everything runs smoothly. She’s also in charge of the health and betterment of the family, make sure everyone stays fit and healthy.
Accounting & Finance
The second department is Accounting & Finance. If the man earns the money then it is the woman who plans the household budget. Research shows that 45% women manage finances at home while only 23% men do the same. Keeping an account of how much is spent on utilities, groceries, salaries, allowances and expenses is always on her mind or jotted down somewhere.
It’s because of this household duty, that women perform so subconsciously that women are better at handling money than men. Studies show that even men believe that their spouses are better at managing household finances that they are. This experience results in women being better at managing debt and maintaining a lifestyle than men. But there is a downside. Because women put so much focus on day-to-day management of finances, they often lose sight of long-term financial goals.
Based on a survey, 21% men said they had no responsibility in the shopping for household goods while only 5% women could claim the same. Mothers and women are traditionally responsible for shopping for household items ranging from food, laundry, cleaning products to personal grooming, Since they are in charge of the kitchen, even if they ask their husbands to actually go out and buy the groceries, they have to come up with the shopping list.
Women are also great at looking for bargains, which is probably one of the main reasons they head the purchasing department. One study shows that 78% women use coupons while shopping while 59% men use them. While this difference doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s the intention that counts too. The study also says women are emotional, they say, ‘I want to save money to help my family, but for men, couponing and looking for discounts is like a game they will play to win.
According to National Time Use Surveys, The Indian man spends an average of 19 minutes a day on housework: the Indian woman spends 298 minutes and most of this time is spent in the kitchen. To make things worse, another study found that Indians spend more time cooking than anyone else in the world – 13.2 hours a week. Women spend over seven and a half hours per week for preparing the dishes while men spend five hours a week. According to Deepa Thomas, this is because cooking is rarely classified as a ‘job’ for women. She says Many mothers wouldn’t dare call cooking a “job” because they were taught that it is a duty of emotional value to cook for the family. While occasional grumbling is acceptable, they would never go as far as to think of it as a hateful task.” And so, women handle the Production Department too.
Under production comes allocation of raw materials (budgeting groceries), handling labor (the cook) and making sure of quality control.
Lastly, women are also in charge of socializing and entertaining guests. Whether those guests are her friends or friends of her in-laws, husband, children, she’s the one in charge of feeding and entertaining them and making sure they are comfortable. Huffington Post identifies this department as one of the reasons why women are stressed all the time.
Wives know that if they have their children’s friends come over to the house looks like a disaster, with obvious dirt and grime, the other mothers will judge her. In society, there is an expectation that your home does not look like a pigsty when you entertain guests. This applies to anyone visiting your home, if it does not look presentable, it reflects on the entire family, yes. But since the woman is always considered to be the ‘homemaker’, it reflects mainly on her.
Between these 5 departments, it’s clear that managing a household and managing a business definitely have some parallels. The only discrepancy is that women are rarely paid for running a household. If only 64% of Indian Women were actually running their own businesses, India’s economy would look very different.