Nobel Laureate Claudia Goldin famously identified the ‘motherhood penalty’ i.e. the price women pay (in terms of compensation foregone) for having a child. She wrote, “Women earn less than men, and that is especially true of mothers relative to fathers. Much of the widening occurs after family formation when mothers reduce their hours of work.” (Source:

“According to the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research, on average, a quarter of women in the world will drop out of the workforce within a year of the birth of their first child as a result of the motherhood penalty.”

Now a tech professional from Chennai, 30 year old Sankari, has used this issue to launch a start-up which solves this problem (at least in part) for female professionals. Nootan Sharma’s article in The Print says “After working in the IT sector for eight years, Sankari took a career break to take care of her baby. But a little over a year later, when she was ready to return to the workforce, there was no place for her. She was passed over as just another ‘housewife’.

“I am an MIT [Madras Institute of Technology] graduate in computer science engineering, and I was getting job offers for data entry. I was at the peak of my career in the IT sector before conceiving my baby. Why would I settle for less?” said the 30-year-old, outrage and anger seeping into her otherwise soft-spoken demeanour.

Unwilling to accept the penalty of motherhood, Sankari tapped into her network, used her IT skills, and launched her own job portal, Overqualified Housewives. That was in August 2021. Since then, she has hired five employees, upskilled more than 2,500 women, and helped more than 500 women get jobs in the IT, healthcare and other sectors. Work from home, freelance gigs, and one-time payments are prioritised on her portal, “which promises to act as a catalyst in giving women their power back”…

Today, Sankari says she has tied up with 600 businesses in cities like Chennai and Bengaluru and even in the US and Germany. When she started out, she began with finding HR, admin and data entry jobs. “But now we have expanded to 25 options that include IT, content writing, real estate and hospitality, among others,” said Sankari, who launched her business with no outside investment.

Most of the women she’s placed earn a monthly salary in the range of Rs. 18,000 to 60,000 depending on skill level and position. “We take 8.33 percent of the annual package amount as our commission from the businesses, not from the candidates,” said Sankari.”

Those who want to see India rise should hope & pray that Sankari’s start-up takes off because the stats in India about how child birth decimates the professional prospects of women are disturbing: “…around 96 per cent of Indian men in the prime age-group of 25-54 years were employed in 2022-23, but it was only around 37 per cent for women.”

Ironically, government policies are in place in India to encourage women to return to work. The problem it seems are the people at home and in the office: “There’s no dearth of policies in India that benefit women after childbirth. Women get paid maternity leave for six months after a 2017 amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, which also covers work-from-home or hybrid work models. But Sankari says change has to begin at home.

“This is not [just] about policy change but also a change of environment in our house too.” Her family supported her decision to restart her career, but even then people would ask her, ‘Why now? Why can’t you wait?’

“They couldn’t understand that opportunity doesn’t wait.”…

All the women she reached out to had similar experiences, a reflection of ingrained prejudice in the corporate world. On paper, HR policies are not discriminatory against women, and companies extol the benefits they provide….But many companies do not follow the rules, and the odds are stacked against women even before they get pregnant. A study in the UK concluded that nearly one in five HR managers are reluctant to hire women who may start families.

According to the Maternity Benefit Act 2017, companies with more than 50 employees should provide day-care facilities, but this has not been widely put into practice.

“If a mother wants to start working again then the first thing she needs is support from their family, many women don’t get it, and even if they get it can’t find jobs because the companies don’t provide enough support to mothers,” said Sankari.

On LinkedIn, women talk about the lack of flexibility, daycare centres, and long working hours.”

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