75% Women in Singapore Feel Under-Represented in Leadership Roles

October 11, 20164:01 pm549 views

In recent years, the influence of patriarchy in Asia Pacific varies accordingly to the economic growth, culture, and religious beliefs in each country. The diminished but ever-prevalent pressure for women to assume more parental duties over men has led us to question if the career priorities of working professionals differ between men and women.

According to the latest whitepaper titled ‘Empowering Women in the Workplace’ from specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, 75% of women surveyed in Singapore feel that they are inadequately represented in leadership positions. In comparison, 56% of male respondents in Singapore state that they think women have sufficient standing in business leading roles.

21% of the respondents in Singapore agreed that women made up more than 20% of leadership positions in their organisations. However, only 45% believe that there are strong female leaders within their organisation that they can look up to as role models.

Advocating the need for gender diversity in the workplace, a majority (79%) of women in Singapore cited the presence of a mentor or sponsor at the senior management level as the most helpful driver in empowering them to develop their careers.

Joanne Chua, Account Director of Robert Walters Southeast Asia, comments: “From our interactions with professionals of both genders and observations as market leaders, we noticed that more often, women tend to second-guess their capabilities compared to their male counterparts. This has in turn often limited their progression at the workplace. It is our desire to inspire more females to break out of their comfort zones, challenge the mindsets of society and in some cases, their own mindsets of the role of women in the workplace to fulfill their fullest potential.”

Other Key Highlights From the Survey

  • 37% of females in Singapore think that their current employer has clear and enforced policies on gender diversity, equality and inclusion.
  • However, 49% of women surveyed feel that their organisation is lacking fair and equal representation of female business leaders.
  • When asked to name the top three reasons why women are under-represented, 37% of all respondents in Singapore cited family pressures or commitments outside of work.
  • Additionally, 32% believed it is due to a preference by management to promote men over women, and 30% attributed it to a workplace culture that does not actively foster diversity, inclusion and equality

This whitepaper titled Empowering Women in the Workplace is based on a survey conducted in January 2016 to better understand existing perceptions of gender diversity across key markets in Asia Pacific. The survey gathered the views of over 4,400 clients and active job seekers across Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Additional interviews and research were collated to complement survey findings.

McKinsey & Co paper titled ‘Unlocking the full potential of women at work’ drew attention to the tendency for senior executives to expect female leaders to model the same behaviour as men. Many successful female leaders adapt to the male environments in which they operate, believing that a typically male-centric, results-orientated approach will aid them in their advancement to senior management.

While the career priorities of working professionals in Asia Pacific are consistent across genders, women in the workplace continue to face issues limiting their growth trajectory within organisations. There is still a dearth of strong female leaders in organisations that women can look up to as role models, but gender diversity has proven to improve team performance and success.

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