Reports: Gender equality in the workplace still falls short

Reports: Gender equality in the workplace still falls short

A group marches towards Government House on International Women's Day. They showed appreciation for female politicians and rights advocates, while calling for a better life for female workers. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul
A group marches towards Government House on International Women's Day. They showed appreciation for female politicians and rights advocates, while calling for a better life for female workers. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Despite years of promoting gender equality in the workplace and female empowerment among leaders and organisations worldwide, significant progress is lacking, according to recent studies.

The studies found women still have many milestones to pass in their professional lives until they can successfully bridge the gap.

Grant Thornton's International Business Report found 32.4% of senior management positions in mid-market businesses are held by women, an increase of just half a percentage point since 2022 and only 13 percentage points since the research started in 2004.

At this rate only 34% of senior leadership positions will be held by women in 2025, said Karitha Ericson, global leader of network capability and culture at the UK-based advisory firm.

The study recorded strong performances for women in senior leadership positions at a regional level.

All regions surpassed the 30% level for women in senior management for the first time, according to the report released on March 8.

The Asean region recorded the biggest percentage point rise, increasing from 37% to 40%. Latin America gained two percentage points from 35% to 37%, while the European Union's performance remained flat at 33%.

The Asia-Pacific region's increase of two percentage points to 32% places it ahead of North America for the first time since 2018.

North America was the only region to experience a dip, from 33% to 31%, noted the report.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2022, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), indicated the East Asia and the Pacific region closed 69% of its gender disparity, compared with 68.1% at the global level. South Asia ranked the lowest at 62.3%.

The report estimated it will take 132 years to achieve full gender parity on a global scale.

The report covers women's access to the economy, education, politics and health across 146 countries, said the WEF.

According to the WEF, Thailand ranked eighth in Asia and 79th among countries surveyed in July 2022, with an economic participation and opportunity score of 79.5%. The country's female graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees accounted for 30.1% of the total.

In China, the government vowed to increase gender equity in the STEM research sector as women make up 46% of the country's science and technology labour force, with a meagre 6% female membership in the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


A study by American analytics firm Gallup found many women still report large disparities in terms of pay rises and promotions, even though they take advantage of digital skills training.

In Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and New Zealand, men were significantly more likely than women to report salary increases as a result of their digital skills training.

As a result, female employees, especially those in Asia-Pacific, increasingly feel the need to sharpen their digital skills in order to advance in their careers, according to the WEF.

WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi said women face continued headwinds such as societal expectations, employer policies, and a legal environment regarding care infrastruc- ture availability, despite their increasing moves into paid work and leadership positions in industry.

"The economic and social consequences of the pandemic and geopolitical conflicts have paused progress and worsened outcomes for women and girls around the world. This risks creating permanent scarring in the labour market," she said.

Employment losses from the pandemic have been significantly worse for female than male workers as a result of the disproportionate care burden for women following the closure of childcare facilities and schools during the crisis, according to the group.

The International Labour Organization reported more than 2 million mothers globally left the labour force over the course of 2020.

The global unemployment rate for women in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 7.8%, compared with 6.5% for men.

"The reduction of women's labour force participation has important consequences for other dimensions of employment and the distribution of unpaid work, which affects how women access economic opportunities as well as deal with other spheres of life," the WEF report noted.

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