Recent study commissioned by McKinsey Global Institute revealed that Singapore could boost its economic potential to more than $26 billion by 2025, if the country is committed in increasing female representation in top-paying jobs and high-growth industries.
According to a report released on Wednesday (Apr 25), Singaporean women are under-represented in the upper echelons of some high-growth sectors. However, the finance and insurance industries were found to see the least gap, as there is almost parity between males and female representations. Education providers and companies could address this issue by setting up programmes to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry.
The report calculated the gender parity score for all Asia-Pacific countries using 15 indicators of gender inequality at work and three types of gender equality in society, which includes essential services and enablers of economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice, and physical security and autonomy. As a result, Singapore’s spore was 0.68, slightly lagging behind the Philippines which led the region at 0.73. However, the country’s score was well above than the 0.44 of overall Asia-Pacific’s score, Straits Times reports.
Commenting on the findings, managing partner of McKinsey’s Singapore office Diaan-Yi Lin said that Singapore actually does well in the STEM industry. She said, “Singapore has a lot of the structural things done right. For example, we have all-girls schools. The probability of girls in an all-girls schools continuing with science is much higher than in a mixed school. We know that the participation in junior colleges is still very good. But for whatever reason, they still shy away from jobs.”
However, the report noted that Singaporean girls are relatively less interested in pursuing professional STEM careers than their male counterparts. For example, only about one in three (32 percent) undergraduates in the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing are female. Similar figure is found in the Nanyang Technological University’s demographic, where women made up just 27 percent of its 2015-2016 computer science course.
The report suggested that university policies can be reviewed to encourage more women to participate in the STEM fields. Meanwhile, companies could address this issue by shifting internal policies to help female talents pursue STEM careers even if they do not have related background.
Women can also take ownership of their own careers. Ms Lin suggested using SkillsFuture credits to enroll in STEM-related programmes. Rather than taking up general courses in leadership skills or presentation, digital marketing or technical courses could also prove useful, she added.