Singapore's adjusted gender pay gap (GPG) has seen an improvement between 2002 to 2018, narrowing from 8.8% to 6%, a recent study by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has revealed. This meant that in 2018, for every S$100 men earned, women earned S$94.

The report, released yesterday (9 January), showed this figure to be lower than those found in similar studies done for the United States (8%), Canada (7.7% to 8.3%), and China (18.3).

To derive the above GPG for Singapore, the study took into account human capital and labour market factors such as age, education, occupation, usual hours worked per week, and industry.

What stood out in the report was that while human capital factors had little impact on this gap, occupation was found the most influential factor, due to occupational segregation. This showed men were over-represented in higher-paying occupations, while women tended to be in lower-paying occupations.

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Before these factors were accounted for, the unadjusted GPG, which measured the difference between median incomes of men and women, stood at 16.3% in 2018 (2002: 16%). Of this 16.3%, about two-fifths was accounted for by occupational segregation.

What else was observed in Singapore's workforce representation?

Women were higher educated, labour force participation rate increased

In 2002, just 36% of women held at least a diploma qualification. Fast forward 16 years and, in 2018, almost double the number of women hold at least a diploma (71%).

Additionally, there has been a significant rise in the labour force participation rate (LFPR) of working age women from 2002 (65.2%) to 2018 (80.8%). For men, these numbers were at 96.4% and 95.2% respectively - representing a slight drop over the years.

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A significant rise in PMET roles occurred

As compared to 2002, more men and women held professional, managerial, executive and technician (PMET) roles in 2018, as illustrated in the chart below. Additionally, a higher share of women was observed across the broad occupational groups as well, with those in PMET roles recording the largest increase.

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Women tended to be in over-represented in people-oriented occupations

If you've noticed a significant number of women in HR, teaching, and healthcare, this could be because women tend to have stronger interpersonal skills, a separate study cited in the report found.

In other words, women were more included to take up people-oriented occupations, i.e. jobs that require empathy and interactions, as these brought on higher levels of job satisfaction.

Lead image / iStock Infographics /MOM