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Friday, May 12, 2006

Women and Job in Indonesia

JOB INTERVIEW (it happened in 1994)

The interviewer: Well, any plan to get married in the near future?
The applicant: Oh no Ma’am. In fact, I am already married.
The interviewer: Oh, so you are already married? Any baby?
The applicant: Yes, I have one baby daughter, three years old.
The interviewer: Unfortunately, we only accept single women for our new employees. Honestly speaking we don’t really like to have a married employee coz she usually will be busy with her own family matters, moreover after having a baby. Anyway, thanks for coming for this job interview.

JOB INTERVIEW (it happened in 1998)

The interviewer: May I know whether you are already married?
The applicant: Not yet.
The interviewer: Any plan to get in this short time?
The applicant: Not yet either.
The interviewer: So, in that case, we cannot guarantee that you will always stay in this city. Who knows one day you will get a husband-to-be from out of town? You will follow your husband to his city, won’t you? It means that we will just use up our time to give you chance for a training and end up with your moving out of town. We will get nothing then. Thank you anyway for your coming to this job interview.

The first job interview happened in a private company while the second was in a state university. Both were located in my hometown in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia.
This ambiguous treatment to women is triggered by a consensus in Indonesian’s society that a woman belongs to her husband; that a woman works not to be the breadwinner of the family but only for “fun” (read è earn money only to buy her personal needs that probably her husband doesn’t really give a damn to buy for her); that a woman’s main responsibility is to take care of the family (husband and children) so that a woman cannot be reliable in the office. Examples: when a child gets sick at home, it is the responsibility of the mother to take care of her. She will feel guilty—sometimes to an extent where she will feel sinful—if she chooses to go to the office and let the child at home without anybody taking care of him/her. And she is not the main breadwinner. Let her husband do that. A woman will always be considered not able to be professional in this matter.
I must admit that there are still abundant women recently in Indonesia who “are not really professional” in doing their job. They still put their family’s matters in the first priority and put the office’s duties the second. Why? Because the consensus is like that. Because they are not given chance to show their being professional. Because many of them are still brought up in a biased-gender family so that they take the consensus for granted as something naturally, given by God.
I believe with the spread of feminism ideology in Indonesia, many women have shown their being professional in doing their job so that it is high time for society to change the consensus, that a woman belongs to her husband, that a woman must give the first priority to the family matters so that she cannot be professional at the office, that a woman will have to follow where the husband moves due to the job.
Well, although I must say that it is still difficult to be applied among those people with very conventional views.
FYI, the woman in the first job interview I mentioned above got a job as a lecturer in a private college. I know she always shows her being professional by putting her office’s duties at the first priority then her family matters. The woman in the second job interview got married with a man from Semarang too. A year after getting married, she got a job from a state university out of town, quite far from Semarang coz it takes around 8 hours by bus. And guess what? She left her husband in Semarang to pursue her career. Her husband has got a steady job in Semarang so that he cannot follow his wife.
What is the comment from people around? “What is she looking for in this life? She has got married. Why should she leave her husband here only to pursue her own career? Isn’t a woman’s place beside her husband? Besides, her husband has got a steady job, hasn’t he? What else does she expect? A husband is a man that a woman should depend on.”
My response to those people’s comment, “Don’t ask her to view this life from your own point-of-view. She knows best for her own life.”
Ah yeah I know, we all people who care for the equality between men and women still have to struggle to make it come true. I know it is not as simple and quick as we turn our palm down.
PT56 11.01 120506


jiwakitamerdeka said...

I would submit that the best answer is to do our own business, however small it is, for a start. To work for others is a troublesome and depends on their conditions. Be an entrepneur. So there you are...the sky is the limit, freedom and up to you.

A Feminist Blog said...

I suppose we all were born in this world with different characteristics, talents and capabilities. Some are indeed great businespeople so that they can have their own business; some are great; some are just fine and enough to make their ends meet. Some other people were born with different characteristics that make them not able to do their own business, to be entrepeneurs, although to be an entrepeneur, people can be the boss for themselves, no one can give them any command. However, if they cannot really do that, we cannot blame them if they look for a job in companies.
What's wrong with that?