These 15 Women Dared To Break The Mould And Took Unconventional Career Paths

How often do you call an electrician and a woman shows up to fix your power supply? Or a policewoman chases all the criminals and saves the day? Have you noticed a middle-aged lady smoothly driving a passenger bus? As we see more and  more women achieve great roles in multinationals, there are some career paths which are still considered male-dominated.

Those women who break the stereotypes and carve their way to success in these unconventional fields capture everyone’s heart and give courage to those who are dreaming of similar careers.

Here is a list of 15 such unconventional career options that women have opted for:

1. App developing

Mehvish Mushtaq

Mehvish Mushtaq

Picture credits- Yawar Kabli\WFS

With everything just a single touch away, life has become super simple for all of us and we can’t thank technology enough for this. Hundreds of apps are launched every day for mobile and computer users. From ordering pizza to shopping and finding a cab – there is an app for everything. But, one thing noticeable was the male dominance in this sector. Whenever I saw the names of the app creators I barely came across any female names and I was wondering where the women were! But, thanks to a few ladies who broke the trend and designed some awesome apps, I now know they are around and making their presence felt.

Mehvish Mushtaq is one such girl who broke the stereotype and became a successful app designer at the young age of 23. The girl from Kashmir became the first Kashmiri woman to design an android app.  Read more about her and her interesting app “Dial Kashmir” here.

2. Sports Media

mayanti langer

Mayanti Langer

Picture Source

While conventional media has many women journalists, sports journalism is something which is hardly touched by most women in India. Sports has always been considered as a “man” thing while women are mostly seen covering the lifestyle sections. Over a period of time and with the help of contributions from some really talented women, we are finally seeing a wind of change. From keeping the scores to knowing the rules of a game and going on the ground to profile the players, a sports media person has an eventful life and some ladies have just cracked it.

Mayanti Langer is one such person who has redefined the role of women in sports media. A sports journalist with ESPN, Langer has a great interest in football. She  hosted the FIFA World Cup 2010 on ESPN. She also hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

3. Surfers

Ishita Malviya

Ishita Malviya

Surfing is not a very common profession in India. This adventure sport has mostly seen men cutting through the waves and making their way. But, when India’s first surfer girl came into the limelight, it made a mark everywhere.

Ishita Malaviya from Mumbai created headlines for her exceptional surfing skills along with a tag of being India’s first surfer girl. The country’s obsession with fair skin, going against the flow and choosing an unconventional career – Malaviya has broken many such stereotypes and inspired many women.

“The best part about surfing is having fun, just being out in the water and connecting with nature. It helps me find peace and restores balance to my life,” she says. Watch her story here.

4. Boxing

Mary Kom

Mary Kom

Ever since a child is born , he/she is encouraged to follow hobbies that “suit” his/her gender. While boys are given toy cars and video games as gifts, a doll is the first choice for a gift for a baby girl. Boys are encouraged to go play while girls get their dancing lessons. With the changing culture in the country, women have come forward and chosen some male-dominated careers in sports as well. Boxing is one such field which was male-dominated until some path-breaking women chose it as their career.

Mary Kom doesn’t need any introduction. Five times world boxing champion, Kom is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. This 31 year old lady from Manipur has surely made the whole nation proud and opened gates for many other girls who want to opt for a career in boxing.

5. Disco Jokey (DJ)

DJ Arlene

DJ Arlene

The music industry has been majorly male dominated. Even among the DJ’s, we surely have been missing the fairer sex. As there are always those few who go against the flow and choose something unconventional, this industry has its own shares of exceptions.

DJ Arlene Gomez is one who chose her profession out of her passion. She started her career when she was 18 and soon became Bangalore’s first female DJ. Later on, she became one of India’s most popular female disco jockeys, having played in various countries and almost every major city of India.

6. Bartender

shatbhi basu

Shatbhi Basu heads STIR, a professional bartending institute in India.

Almost a decade ago, this industry was 100 percent male dominated. Juggling of bottles and mixing the right combination to give you your perfect drink, bartending has been an unusual career choice, even for men. And when a woman opts for it, many eyebrows are raised. But, there are some women who shrugged their shoulders and turned their backs to the stereotypes to opt for this unique field.

Shatbhi Basu is one such person who took the plunge and established herself as a successful bartender across three decades. This 53-year old woman started bartending when it wasn’t even a common choice for men. She also heads STIR, a professional bartending institute.

“I look upon untried careers such as bartending for women as an opportunity to shine and change perceptions that arise out of cultural blocks and lack of insight. You have to be exceptionally strong or come from an evolved family and be immune to pressures, if any,” she says.

Read more about Shatbhi and other women bartenders here.

7. Police

Chhaya Sharma

Chhaya Sharma

Whenever I saw some Hindi movie showcasing a heroic entrance of police, there would always a macho man who would come out of the jeep and defeat all the criminals and make a remarkable exit from the crime scene. It was always a man who would beat up all the “bad guys” and save the lady. Gradually, as the times are changing, we are seeing more women in this male-dominated career. Kicked off by Kiran Bedi who became India’s first IPS officer, the trend continues with many such courageous women.

Chhaya Sharma, DCP of Delhi is an inspiration to many.  She has handled many renowned cases like baby Falak case, arrest of Namdhari and the unfortunate 16 December Delhi gang rape case. “Each moment of pain and pleasure is cherished, close to my heart, as all my work was done passionately,” she says. (Source)

8. Bus Drivers

Prema Ramappa

Prema Ramappa

Picture Source

“Women are bad drivers”, we often hear people say and it’s about time this propaganda ends. With very few women in the transport industry, we are certainly taken by a pleasant surprise to see a woman driving a public transport bus.

Prema Ramappa Nadapatti is one lady who is making her way in this male-dominated career option. She is the only female BMTC bus driver-cum-conductor in Bangalore. When her husband died 10 years ago, Ramappa didn’t have a choice and had a family to support. Always wanting to do something different she chose to become a bus driver. She is often called “daredevil” by her colleagues.

9. Private Detective

Rajni Pandit

Rajni Pandit

Picture Source

When a girl’s parents start worrying that she is out after dark, when they make sure a male member accompanies her when she is travelling late at night, and when the family is always worried about her safety, how unusual is it to choose a career which is far from safe? Private detective is one such profession which would not be easily considered by women.

Rajni Pandit went ahead and broke the stereotype of this male dominated industry by becoming Maharashtra’s first woman private investigator.  She solved her first case when she was in college and with the family’s support she found her career path. She started Rajni Pandit Detective Services in 1991. She has worked with 30 detectives and solves around 20 cases every month.

10. Stand up comedian

Bharti Singh

Bharti Singh

I remember the days when a popular stand up comedy show just started being aired on TV. The whole nation laughed with those selected candidates as they made various jokes and tickled our bones. But, again, I wondered where the women were? Then there was one season where a a female stand up comedian captured everyone’s hearts and became one of the most loved faces of the Indian television industry. Though slowly, this industry is seeing a hike in the number of females taking the profession seriously.

Bharti Singh is one such lady who changed the image of the Indian stand up comedy scenario. In this male governed field, Bharti found her way and became one of India’s most popular comedians. She became a runner up of a standup comedy reality TV series and later on went ahead and participated in many such events and shows.

11. Security Guards

Safe Hands

Safe Hands

We sleep peacefully every night because we know someone out there is guarding us; our very own security guard who makes sure that the community is protected. In the industry where we have always seen male guards, it is inspiring to see women coming forward to take up this unconventional career option. Family pressure, safety issues and many such obstacles often come in a female’s way if she thinks of joining such a career. But, there are some who are scared of none and want to make a difference.

Safe Hands is an organization that trains rural women to become security guards. Started by Shravani Pawar, the organization has trained over 400 rural women so far. Read more about them here.

12. Mountaineering

Bachendri Pal

Bachendri Pal

Climbing the highest peaks, beating extreme climate and challenging one’s body strength, mountaineering requires all of these. Maybe, this is why the fairer sex did not opt for this unconventional career path earlier. Now, we are seeing many women who are daring enough to go against the flow.

Bachendri Pal from Uttarakhand became the first woman to climb Mount Everest and inspired many such women to follow her individualistic path. Apart from Pal, Premlata Agarwal became the first Indian woman mountaineer to scale the seven summits of the world. Following their footsteps, Poorna Malavath, a 13-year old girl made a record by becoming the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest. Read her story here.

13. Archaeology

Shereen Ratnagar

Shereen Ratnagar

The study of human activities in the past and how they lived is always exciting. We always want to dig deeper and find more about our ancestors and gather some lesser known facts. As we see, the majority of archaeologists are men, but there are some women who have made a mark by choosing this career.

Shereen Ratnagar is one such person, who has focused on the Indus Valley Civilization. Having worked as a professor of Archaeology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Ratnagar currently works as an independent researcher in Mumbai.

14. Wine tasters

Sovna Puri

Sovna Puri

Picture Source

Sommeliers have been an important part of the food culture across the world. As women are considered the queens of the kitchen in a household, it is strange to see that men rule the roost when it comes to being chefs or wine tasters. Some women take their love for food beyond their own houses and make a big contribution to this male-dominated industry.

Sovna Puri is one such person, who became passionate about wine at a very young age and acquired a degree in this field. She worked with Sula, one of the popular wine brands in India.

It is a great feeling. It was indeed challenging, but once you are really passionate about something, the journey along with its ups and downs is completely worth it!” she says. (Source)

15. Bikers

Bikerni Association

Bikerni Association

Like most things, what a person drives is also often differentiated according to gender stereotypes. In most commercials, a guy rides a big bike while a girl flaunts her trendy scooterette. While most of them are okay with this arrangement some women chose to break the stereotype and became serious bikers.

The Bikerni group is one such association of female bikers.  This group of amazing ladies spreads the message of women empowerment and encourages other girls to take up biking as well and break the stereotype of it being a “guy thing”.

We salute and admire these women who have gone an extra mile to pursue their dreams and managed to earn exceptional recognition and success, and inspire many others along the way. We can surely learn a lesson or two from these achievers and path breakers.

Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: contact@thebetterindia.com, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia).