What is the ‘Great Breakup?'

The Indian workplace has always been complicated due to gender, caste, and other factors. Women have had to fight for something as basic as the right to work, leaves, equal pay, and opportunities.

Yet, we have made it to most sectors- from corporate to military positions, starting our own companies and start-up businesses; in short, women seem to have made it!

But the reality is far from it. While it seems that women have it all within the workplace, there is a constant debate around pay and gender disparity, harassment, and discrimination.

Beneath the surface of equality, there seems to be another layer where women are finding more barriers and hurdles when compared to men.

Hence, women have decided to break up with their jobs, positions, and sometimes, their fields, giving the movement a collective term – the Great Breakup!

On this International Women’s Day, this blog deep dives into this recent phenomenon, the reasons behind it, and the potential ways to shift the narrative for women in the workplace.

What is the #Great Breakup?

As women achieve equality in various fields globally, the world has seen a steep increase in the number of women climbing the ladder to the top positions within corporate and public workplaces.

However, women leaders and employees have recently been stepping down from their jobs and quitting the fields in large numbers.

As per a study by Forbes,

Women leaders are just as likely as their male counterparts to aspire to senior-level roles; however, they often experience microaggressions that undermine their authority. These behaviors send a powerful signal that advancement will be harder. So, they walk.

Reasons Behind the Great Break Up

Women have faced countless barriers and hurdles in workplaces, but some obstacles are harder to cross and overturn. While being given equal access to opportunities at the entry level, women face discrimination and devaluation further on the ladder to better positions and promotional opportunities.

As per a quote from the Women in the Workplace report 2022 ,

They’re (women) more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgment questioned or being mistaken for someone more junior.

They’re doing more to support employee well-being and foster inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and going mostly unrewarded.

But is inequality the only reason behind this movement? Sadly, the answer is no! Here are some other reasons for the Great Breakup:

Barriers to promotions

Despite several opportunities at entry-level positions and jobs, we see an unfair representation of women at leadership levels.

One of the reasons for this is the constant judgment and stigma around roles women play like motherhood, and marriage, leading to them getting passed over for promotions and raises.

Club it with the lack of trust in women’s work ethic, qualifications, and efficiency, and it is a perfect match.

The ‘Women in Workplace’ report quotes,

For every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level to a manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color are promoted.

As a result, men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, and women can never catch up.

Women who reach leadership levels and have directorial roles within companies do significantly more work than their male counterparts.

Unpaid and unrecognized work

While doing their jobs, women at managerial levels are expected to do a lot of ED&I work [Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity], which is often unpaid and unrecognized.

However, the extra amount of work creates higher chances of burnout and impacts the work-life balance for women.

Changes in expectations

Women want to advance in their careers and aspire to have senior and leadership roles in companies.

Getting these positions and promotions is comparatively difficult for women, as they are judged against more strenuous expectations of performance and workload.

Women desire better conditions of working, which promise the fulfillment of their aspirations and put them in leadership roles and positions.

Women-led companies and start-ups are shaping more inclusive and diverse work cultures, prioritizing empowerment and growth.

While these reasons sufficiently help us understand the urgency behind the Great Breakup, women leaders leaving companies represents a loss of representation and visibility.

The gap between the number of men and women leaders is increasing, and workplaces need to create better and more fulfilling spaces for women.

Let us look at some ways we can shift the narrative and create better futures for women in the workplace:

How can we shift the narrative?

Here's how the narrative around the Great Breakup can be changed:

Creating an equal and equitable workplace

Promotional barriers keep women from achieving their goals and aspirations.

Due to a lack of advancement and promotion opportunities, women look for alternative fields that hold more promise for these opportunities.

Regular employee feedback can help companies improve while keeping specific needs in mind and making a significant impact.

Commitment to well-being and balance

Companies must prioritize employee well-being and support balance to avoid burnout and create uplifting and empowering workplaces.

Companies should also invest more in networking and social spaces to foster employee well-being and camaraderie.

Also, companies need to establish well-rounded support systems to level the playing field for women.

Providing accessibility and flexibility

According to the HBR report, women typically report that they want to work fully or remotely at levels about 10% above men.

women gravitate towards hybrid and remote working options because they provide a respite from biases and a better work-life balance.

Avoiding commutes saves time for housework and other activities that continue to fall on women's shoulders.

Furthermore, recognizing health issues and disabilities and providing better provisions for women can help them work in a safe and inclusive environment.

As per a report by women in workplace,

working at home can help women with disabilities be healthier and more productive since it’s easier to manage mobility issues, chronic pain, and mental health conditions when you have more control over your work environment.


On this International Women's Day, employees, managers, and leaders can seize the opportunity to create more welcoming, inclusive, and safe workplaces for women.

Encourage hybrid and remote work options for women, with plenty of opportunities for advancement and promotion. Increasing access of women to entry-level positions is no longer enough.

Breaking the glass ceiling alone is not enough. The idea is to encourage all women to realize their potential and reach the top of their careers to achieve their goals!

Women's Day Career Insights