On Feminism, Courage And Equality – Garima Bharti From IIM A Shares Her Thoughts – Celebrating Womanhood On InsideIIM

Garima Bharti is currently a PGP-II student at IIM Ahmedabad. Prior to her MBA, she completed her B.Tech in Electrical & Electronics from Delhi College of Engineering. She is passionate about women’s issues and wishes to see many more females pursuing management and engineering as careers.


What advice would you give to a 5-year-younger you?

The biggest advice would be to believe in oneself no matter what others say. The only thing that separates achievers from the rest of the lot is their belief, goal clarity, determination and perseverance. Clearly, self-belief is the starting point. Past grades and current standing should not define your capability. It is the attitude that determines your success in future.

Goal clarity and conviction is the next most important thing. Well strategized and clearly directed efforts pay off. Confused attempts often lead to increased frustrations.

Another crucial thing is to be fearless. Don’t be afraid of taking bold decisions. Listen to people’s advice, gather information but at the end do what you feel is right. It is your life, you are in charge of it and only you are responsible for the way it turns out. Hence, in order to avoid blame game issues, take your own decisions and don’t be bogged down by the difficulties that arise because of it.

Lastly, if you do your best and you don’t succeed, maybe that thing happened for the best. God probably has better things in store for you. So not point getting disheartened and depressed about those things.


How do you think women are better equipped to deal with problems as compared to men?

I believe that there is a very little biological difference between men and women brains. Whatever differences that arise are possibly because of social conditioning. Hence, it is difficult to really segregate traits. One difference that I have observed is in the ability of women to get along with their peers and work amiably in a group environment. This allows them to be better organisational fit. Likewise, employee retention is said to be higher in case of women.


Many IIMs and other b-schools award extra points for being a woman. What is your take on that? Do you propagate the concept OR Have you faced any backlash for the same?

I think we need to look at the logic behind implanting such a rule first. An average woman faces more challenges than an average man to reach the same level i.e. IIM interview in this case. Hence, the extra points are awarded in order to compensate for that and to include more women who would have been naturally there in absence of any discrimination.

However, the immediate consequence of such a system is that peers in B-school begin to doubt the merit and capabilities of women who enter. This goes against the assumed benefits of having more women in a classroom. Additionally, it promotes stereotypes and leads men to believe that women are not as capable.

In my view, to make any sort of affirmative action a success, we must first educate people why it is required and what benefits it serves.  


Name one incident that you encountered where someone told you, you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman.

In a discussion about career choices, I have had people (almost always guys) tell me that investment banking is not for women because it involves extremely long work hours. What angers me the most is that people in such premier institutes too, think this way. Educational institutions ideally should be a place for enlightened minds pushing for social change rather than people propagating regressive and sometimes irrational beliefs in the name of tradition.  


If you are out on a date, do you prefer to pay yourself? If you insisted that you want to pay for yourself, how did the other person react?

I would prefer to pay for myself and have done so on almost all dates. I think this is one part of feminism that most guys get now. So, I haven’t really faced significant opposition when I insisted on paying for my share. In fact, in a lot of cases, the implicit understanding is that we are going dutch. Hence, many a times there is no insistence or resistance.