Knowledge Center

Population, Education, Labour Force, Management and Government



  • Currently there are over 1,219,300,00 people living in India, which makes it the second most populous country in the world, following China.1
  • Women are 48.5% of the general population of India.2 In Daman & Diu, women are 38.2% of the population.3
  • There is a gender gap at birth. For every 100 girls born, there are 112 boys born; this gap is even wider in some regions.4 Of all ages, the gender gap is 100 females for every 107 males.5
  • India’s religions play a strong role in its culture and people, and the large majority of Indians are Hindu.6
  • India has the largest Gen Y population in the World.7
    • In 2020, India will have a disproportionate number of young people entering the labour force (the median age will be 29). Today, 29.7 percent of the population is between 0-14 years of age, 64.9 percent between 15-64 years of age.8





  • The Caste System (Jati) goes back thousands of years, and continues to influence choices and access. The castes, from highest to lowest status, include:
    • Brahmin9
    • Kshatriya10
    • Vaisyas11
    • Sudras12
    • The Dalits/Untouchables (considered below or outside the caste)13

Educational Achievement

  • Less than half of Indians in their twenties have completed secondary education.14
  • 37% of all Indian adults are illiterate.15
  • Of those ages 15 and up, just 47.8% of females were literate compared to 73.4% of males, and out of the total population in India, 61% is literate.16
  • Men dominate the numbers of those enrolled in higher educational degrees.17

Women in the Labour Force

  • In 2009-2010, women were 26.1% of all rural workers, and 13.8% of all urban workers.18
  • Women are an estimated 31.2% of all economically active individuals.19
  • Women earn 62% of men’s salary for equal work.20
  • 26.2% of women compared to 9.0% of men cited a lack of role models as a barrier to advancement. 21

Labour Force Trends and Legislation

  • In an effort to recruit more women employees, some companies are offering 25% bonuses for female employee referrals.22
  • India ranked towards the bottom of the 134 countries, with a ranking of 113, on the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index.23*
  • Women received 12 weeks paid maternity leave.24
  • India has a young workforce and population. In the next ten years, with both younger people and women entering the workforce, India expects to add an additional 110 million people to its labour force.25
  • In the next 40 years, India is projected to add 424 million working-age adults.26


  • Women are just 3% of legislative, management, and senior official positions.27
  • Women in management in India face many challenges. Studies have found:
    • women have to work harder to prove themselves;28
    • men do not respect women bosses (and prefer to have them as subordinates as opposed to superiors);29
    • women are excluded from informal networks.30
  • According to Gender Diversity Benchmark, 2011, India has the lowest national female labour force and the worst leaking pipeline for junior to middle level position women.
    • 28.71% of those at the junior level of the workplace,31
    • 14.9% of those at the middle level,32
    • 9.32% of those at the senior level.33
  • Of 1,112 directorships on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100, just 59 (5.3%) are held by women.34
  • Out of 323 total executive directorship positions (generally considered to be prerequisites to holding the CEO position) on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100, just eight (2.5%) are held by women.35
  • 54% of companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange 100 have no women board directors.36
  • Despite occupying small percentages of leadership positions, 97.2% of women (compared to 95.6% of men) aspire to jobs with increased responsibility.37

Women in Government

  • In June 2010, India was 106 out of 186 countries of women in Parliaments.† 38


  • In the Panchayati Raj system, a new bill has been proposed that gives at least 50% of seats to women, raising from a previous quota of 33%.39
  • Five states already offer 50% reservations to women:
    • Bihar40
    • Uttarakhand41
    • Himachal Pradesh42
    • Madhya Pradesh43
    • Chaattisgarh44

Changing Workplaces

  • As companies strive to retain valuable female talent, companies are attempting to implement programs to create more women-friendly workplaces. One study of IT companies examined work-life/woman-friendly programs. Some of the most common programs include:
    • Flexible work schedules/hours (68% of respondents)45
    • Sexual harassment policies (68%)46
    • Flexible leave policy (64%)47
    • Transportation policy (55%)48
    • Health and wellness programs (50%)49
    • Day care for children/parenting workshops (27%)50
    • Women’s lounge/recreation (23%)51
    • Women’s forum /networks (18%)52

* The Global Gender Gap Index is measured by the World Economic Forum. It ranked 130 countries in 2008 on the size of their gender gap between women and men in four areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival.
† Data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments.187 countries are classified by descending order of the percentage of women in the lower or single House.



How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Women in the Labour Force in India. New York: Catalyst, 2012.