Women leadership in Asia

The Asia Society has recently released the results of a survey on women leadership in Asia. Led by Astrid S Turminez, Vice Dean Research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, this wery well documented report describes the contrasted situations of women access to top management positions in the different countries of the region, with a global observation: women in Asia are significantly paid less than their male counterparts; only a limited percentage of them get access to the General Manager job.

Amongst the key findings of the report:

The growth of wealth in Asia has reduced the gab between men and women in many countries, particularly in the areas of health, life expectancy and access to education, economic opportunities and polical engagement. But the situation remains highly contrasted: the countries where the gender gap is the weakest are New Zealand, The Philippines, Australia,  Sri Lanka and Mongolia; those where unequality is highest are Pakistan, Népal, India, the Républic of Korea and Cambodia.

Concerning women leadership, rankings differ according to the indicators being emphasized. Globally, New  Zealand, Australia and the Philippines are leading the rankings. When considering economic aspects and other elements sucjh as women access to top management position, or wage & compensation equity, thos 3 countries are joined by Singapore, Mongolia, Thailand and Malaysia. In the political arena (number of women having a seat in Parliament, number of women ministers or Head of States), the hierarchy is paradoxically reversed, with India, Sri lanka and Bangladesh amongst the 5 best ranked countries; a situation that is explained by the number of women, in these countries, who have become Head of States through family or dynastical links. 

The country's level of development generally represents a favorable indicator of an accrued access for women to leadership positions. But such an analysis suffers a number of exceptions: Japan and Korea are poorly performing on the number of women in top management or Board positions, or on compensation and political engagement equity. Otherwise, China, Singapore and Hong Kong continue to display important imbalances.

In Asia, concrete measures would be becessary to plug "leaks in the pipeline": an impressive number of women abandon their professional activity when moving from mid level to top positions. This abandonment rate amounts to 70,24% in Japan, 52,88% in China, 48,83% in Hong Kong and 45,9% in Singapore. Those measures, which would aim at easing the choice for women to pursue their career without abandoning their mother role and family responsibilities, could take the shape of maternity or paternity leaves, child and elder care, and more equitable retirement schemes.

The report mentions for that matter a number of best practices initiated by States, NGO's and Companies.

One example is the shared cab system implemented by Google in  Bangalore for the sake of all it's employees, which enables women leaving the office after 8 PM to be accompanied back home by a security agent and to be prioritary amongst their male colleagues to be driven home first whatever the itinerary.


►Download the report "Rising to the top" on the Asia Society's website: Women Leaders of New Asia


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