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The workplace in India has changed and how. We’ve come a long way in the history of women in the workplace. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen more women rise to the top. Increasing number of companies are setting ambitious diversity goals and are seeing the value of women leaders. This is an important step in the right direction.

However, our workplaces are still replete with politically incorrect and inappropriate language/behaviour: one step forward and two steps back. We spoke to millennial parents at work and here’s a compilation of things you need to stop saying in the professional environment.

1. “She must be PMSing”

Okay, everybody has their bad days and women are no different. It is a stretch of logic to assume that women are upset or angry or a bit aggressive at work just because she is at that time of the month. Because, when men get that way, what time of the month is it for them? More and more women are flooding the workplace and for them, their job is not just a job, it’s a career. They are smart and ambitious and strive to do well and rise up the corporate ladder. By attributing any negative mood of a woman to “PMS”, one is undermining their career.

2. “When will you take time off to start a family?”

Thank you for trying to decide when we should have children or even IF we want to have children, but really, why do people feel they have to ask this question? We don’t ask men this question, do we? It’s always the women who get asked this question. People assume that women will take time off to start a family while men continue to be the breadwinners. The truth is that so many women are dedicated to their careers. They may take the assigned three months during pregnancy and be back at work in full swing. In any case, it is a very personal question that should not be asked.

3. “How do you juggle work and home?”

Well, that’s another question women get asked most often. It’s patriarchy masked as concern because more often than not, the penalty of parenthood is on the woman. By asking a woman this, you are stereotyping her as the one who has to take care of domestic chores too.

4. “How come you don’t have children?”

This is an intensely personal question and should not be asked to either men or women. There could be so many reasons that people don’t have children – it could be a choice they’ve made; it could be infertility, it could be genetic issues. It is a very sensitive topic and is best avoided.

5. “You’ve put on weight” or “You’ve lost weight.”

Fat activism and body positivity have been seeing great progress especially on social media. Fat-shaming is not acceptable so, telling someone they’ve put on weight is not only rude but hurtful. Similarly, making fun of someone who is slim is not cool, either. Let’s just lay off comments on one’s bodily appearance, shall we?

6. “You’re really taking leave for a PTA meeting on a weekday?”

Well, have you heard of work-life integration? As long as the individual gets work done, there really shouldn’t any judgements around when he/she gets it done. Well, schools do need to start accommodating the schedules of dual-income families but until then, let’s not punish co-workers for taking care of their families, shall we?


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