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Global Salon features Indian alumna

Aditi 2At last week’s Global Salon, Women in Indian Bureaucracy: an Uncertain Glory, Smith alumna, Aditi Mehta ’75 addressed a wide audience of current Smithies.

Aditi discussed her rise in ranks from the Indian Civil Service in 1976 to eventually working alongside high authority ministers as the leader of government assistance for VIP profile cases, such as women, the poor, disabled and widowed. Aditi noted that similarly to the 1970s, women currently make up only 12% of those that enter the Indian Civil Service. Now, however, there are more English-speaking, urban students and a greater representation of the different castes in civil service work.

Right out of college, Aditi started out as an administrator in a “dusty town”, where she had a strong commitment to enhancing social justice. Throughout her career, Aditi competed with men for government positions, and personally felt a “glass ceiling” upon entering higher circles in India’s government. Aditi explains that she “did not feel [her] voice was stifled per se, but not taken with the same serious consideration as men.”
India has made efforts to increase women’s representation in government by developing quotas for women to enter low governmental positions. This has yielded noteworthy results, and 52% of all elected seats are filled by women. Interestingly, the U.S. does not have any quotas set for women in any job sector.

As a female bureaucrat in India, Mehta never felt disrespected by her constituents but more so by her peers. She made note that her Smith education provided her with great insight into other women’s’ struggles and triumphs throughout time and across the globe, thus she imagined a “psychological lifeline” of sorts to Smith whenever faced with hardship.  To end the lecture, Mehta described the unjust bias women everyday face at work, which necessitates that they prove themselves in order to be seen as competent compared to their male counterparts.

Aditi’s talk was one of a series of Global Salon discussions that will be offered weekly throughout the academic year in the Lewis Global Studies Center.

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