Feminism. Womanism. Women’s Rights. A lot of these terms have been used in our daily conversations. There has been an upward trend on social media platforms which generates conversations, which are tough to digest for some people. These conversations tend to challenge the stereotypes that have been prevalent from generations. In 2021, these issues have created a newer segment of females who identify and work towards annihilating these stereotypes. A segment many have started to call – Alpha Females.
Alphas: Good or Bad?
Alpha, in any gender, usually suggests someone who is self-confident, powerful, assertive, accomplished and a leader. There have been a lot of alpha males in history. Starting from the Ashoka the Great during the medieval times to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. From Ivan VI ‘The Terrible’ to Adolf Hitler, alpha males have covered the entire spectrum of personalities. From being enlightened & helping the general population, to being killers & invoking mass genocides in their kingdoms. The things common among all of these alphas was that they believed in whatever they were doing and went ahead in executing their plans, in whatever way necessary. This has led to a lot of good in some decades, but also has led to a lot of bad in many other decades.
History of Alpha Females
There have been a lot of powerful female figures in the human history. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary Wallstonecraft, Rani Laxmibai, Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Sarojini Naidu, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, among countless others. But they were never termed as ‘Alpha Females’. ‘Alpha Females’ as a term started gaining traction in the early 2000s, when female trailblazers in their respective fields started gaining momentum. These females started becoming a role model for not just one gender but all the people who followed them, for their respective fields. Just like the case of alpha males, alpha females also have their population in the entire good-bad spectrum. There are ones who always fight for betterment and upliftment of the neglected population, while there are also, who take wrongful advantage of these situations.
Alpha Females and India
India has traditionally been a male dominated society. From men making decisions for the entire family, to corporate boardrooms having little or no representation from women, women have been unfairly discriminated in getting lesser opportunities. According to a Harvard Business Review, roughly 70% of all senior executives are alpha males. This shows that women are not given any chance to showcase their leadership skills, management skills and their decision-making skills.
But India is showing some promise in terms of providing more opportunities for women. In 2020, India reported that out of 628 listed companies, 55% of them had women directors, which is a 14% rise from 2019. Another good thing which India showed was that the employment rate for the past 2 years (2020-2021) has been showing an increasing trend of women been more preferred than men. The problem – the promotion of women from a junior level to a mid-level or senior level is still very low.
And this is not just a boardroom or a corporate problem. In the household, Indian woman are subjected to multiple mental and physical abuses. 38% of Indian woman have experienced some type of spousal violence in their marriage. And even though there are laws to protect them from any marital violence, many of them do not know or are not informed about these laws. These types of violence start usually when the woman in the house asks for financial independence, to work or just to break the traditional patriarchal norms of their families.
The status of Indian Alpha Females
Social media has been one of the biggest catalysts of spreading the concept of womanism, feminism and alpha females in India, the #MeToo movement being a prime example of this. With the cheapest internet rates in the world, almost everyone has a running internet in the palm of their hands. This has in turn helped in rise of various social influencers, who keep on spreading the ideas of equality and feminism. Social media sites (with some of their obvious drawbacks) have been able to not only make country wide influencers, but also make micro influencers in smaller cities. The woman in these cities have been able to cater content according to their city culture, to educate and inform their audiences about the lack of opportunities and discrimination women face in their societies.
India is currently seeing a surge in alpha females. Not all of these females want to be in the limelight. All they want is change in the thinking of the traditional, orthodox and patriarchal Indian society. And these changes have started to show up in small and big ways. From the boardroom representation to women-centric laws being passed in the parliament to a man posting a matrimonial ad for “an opinionated feminist with short hair and piercings” (even if done as a joke, it did hurt a lot of ‘egos’). “Alpha Females” is still a relatively alien concept in India, but it is gathering pace. And with the feminism wave already set in motion, equal opportunities and prioritizing skills for either gender becomes a key.
Feminism is about inclusivity, helping one another grow in their personal and professional lives. It is not about targeting a specific gender, on a contrary, it is about people like you and I to feel validated and heard.
3 thoughts on “India and the rise of Alpha Females”
We need more Alpha females like you in the world and I am sure your expression will inspire so many.
Interesting piece, Utkarshica, and certainly well composed.
The definition of “Alpha” female is where i would contest or would wish to shed light on this piece.
As a life sciences grad and student of evolutionary biology who also has had the good future and opportunity to teach University Grads subjects like chemical origin of life on earth, evolution, neuroscience, genetic engineering, cell signalling — where i would want to add is what is an “Alpha” in any species or gender.
An “Alpha” in any gender of any species is an individual among all other individuals of the same gender within the same species with natural capabilities and biological or behavioral traits which ensure the “genes” of that individual get passed along in the evolutionary chain with the best combination of genes possible (i.e. in biological terms – matimg with the most possible “aplha” or desirable individual of the opposite gender) to create and leave behind a progeny that is better, stronger, more robust.
This, in a nutshell – an “Alpha” is someone with whom all (or most) of the individuals of the opposite gender might want to mate and make babies or progeny such that they fully well know their progeny would not only survive but thrive.
[Commanding females in a human species who are either stronger and more powerful than the male counterparts or appear to be stronger and more powerful than the male counterparts are actually not “Alpha” in pure scientific and evolutionary terms – and they deter or scare away most males. Hence, even in cultural and traditional heritage there is no queen or female ruler in the world whose line ends up surviving or has continued with unbroken or as-long-as-possible succession.
However, given the human species – the evolution is focused on neural developement and evolution of thought, thinking, knowledge share, wisdom .. thus, rather than being dominating, or physically more powerful the evolution in humanity has shifted to propagation & survival of the intelligent, mature, and wise .. hence (since we all continue to evolve as a species) the direction of evolution and parameters of adaptation are bound to change radically.
Lots more to add here as i contemplate and new observations or truth or realisations stand out everyday. But all that for some other day.
Very interesting and thought provoking piece indeed.
Well written Utkarshica. You are setting an example for many women planning to enter the corporate world.
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