Three Generations of Working Women: Our journey from small-town India to breaking glass ceilings in Corporate America

Kamala’s story (1923–2011)

Picture pre-independence India — colonial rule with its attendant inequalities and impacts on economic and social growth in the country and a struggle for freedom that further led to unrest in political and social thought.

Nalini’s story (1949–present)

Kamala’s eldest daughter, Nalini, remembers her childhood. “I remember sometimes wistfully thinking, ‘Why does my mother work? All my friends’ mothers are at home when they return from school, and they get hot snacks to eat.’ It was much later that I began respecting her and admiring that she was capable of so much more.

Geetika’s story (1974–present)

Geetika and her younger sister, Geetanjali, grew up in a conflicting world, in the city of Delhi, where modern ideas clashed with traditional culture and an enduring and beautiful past. The 1970s and 1980s were also India’s adolescent years when it began adopting new ways of thinking. In that atmosphere, the two girls embraced “radical” feminist ideals — ideals that their own grandmother and mother had fought hard to even think about.

Geetanjali’s story (1977–present)

Geetanjali, Geetika’s younger sister, learned several different lessons in her journey from being the “baby of the family” to where she is today. “When I came into middle school, I felt the first twinge of having a working mother when my mother’s work hours changed, and she would be back only by 6 p.m. instead of the earlier 2 p.m. I had many more school years to go, and I was on the brink of being a teenager. I now had to come back home alone, prepare my lunch, and keep up with my studies. That period gave me the confidence to manage things on my own and made me comfortable with being by myself.”

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