Despite women’s education rates outnumbering those of men in 10 countries in Asia Pacific, looks like there is still a long way to go before the workplace gender gap closes in the region.
According to MasterCard’s latest index of women’s advancement, progress towards gender parity was “still sluggish” – especially in the areas of business leadership, business ownership and political participation.
The survey ranked the socio-economic standing of women in 16 Asia Pacific countries across three categories, including employment (workforce participation, regular employment), capability (secondary education, tertiary education) and leadership (business owners, business leaders, political leaders).
Scores were indexed to 100 males to indicate how close or how far women in each country were to achieving socio-economic parity with men. A score under 100 indicated gender inequality in favour of males while a score above 100 indicated inequality in favour of females.
Across the region, New Zealand had the highest overall index score of 77, followed by Australia (76.0), the Philippines (72.6) and Singapore (70.5).
On the other hand, India (44.2), Bangladesh (44.6), Sri Lanka (46.2) and Bangladesh had scores below 50, indicating vast room for improvement before they can achieve gender parity.
This gap in gender equality was present despite the fact that women in Asia Pacific were found to be more educated than their male counterparts.
“Out of the 16 Asia Pacific markets surveyed, women in 10 markets outnumbered men in tertiary education gross enrollment rate,” the report stated.
“While there is a strong correlation between tertiary education attainment and business leadership in markets such as the Philippines (130.8 for tertiary education; 92.5 for business leaders, New Zealand (146.3 for tertiary education; 70.2 for business leaders) and Thailand (123.6 for tertiary education; 62.7 for business leaders), women in the majority of markets across Asia Pacific are lagging behind in business leadership despite their educational qualifications.”
The survey commended Singapore, however, for being one of the countries to show the most marked advancement in women’s leadership since 2007, gaining 8.7 index points in total.
“Business ownership among Singaporean women has also made commendable progress over the last nine years, with the proportion of female-to-male business owners increasing from 29.9 in 2007 to 42.1,” the report stated.
Capability remained the strongest indicator of Asia Pacific women’s progress towards gender parity for the ninth consecutive year, followed by employment and leadership.
“Study after study shows how public and private sector companies – and their bottom lines – benefit from having more women in leadership,” Georgette Tan, group head, communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, said.
“In fact, companies with more women in leadership outperform those who do not, so the male dominance of leadership roles should be concerning.”