DEALING WITH GENDER PARITY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Women are bigger than society thinks they are.
When we talk about the impact of COVID-19 today, it is clear that women are disproportionately impacted. Even though the NINEby9 survey indicated that 80 percent of women in Asia believe they have gender parity, the truth is that women — especially married women — in Asia are far from having true equality.
Of course, it is important to recognize that Asia is a heterogeneous collection of geographies and cultures and acknowledge that we can't copy-paste the same gender parity initiatives in every Asian country. However, it is clear that persistent patriarchal norms in some Asian countries may have played a role that led to the present unfortunate condition.
How working women who wear wedding rings survive in patriarchal societies
Being a woman in patriarchal Southeast Asian societies has its limitations, including job opportunities. While there have been many advancements and improvements over the last 30 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has put such progress at risk.
Typically, women in Southeast Asia should take on unpaid care work at home. Mothers who maintain a professional career are also often expected to bear the dual burdens of childcare. Consequently, some employers are hesitant to give women more responsibilities.
This is driving to why women need to hide who they are to be accepted by their working environment, particularly by their male colleagues. Case in point, according to a recent study by a Singapore-based gender equality organization, Nineby9, about 70 percent of women in China and over 50 percent of women in India and Singapore said they needed to hide who they were to progress their career.
This is complemented by the prevalent assumption that women with children are not as valuable to the workplace as those without. Indeed, for some women, having children may hinder them from getting the job they truly want. It is also typical for women to worry that employers would be concerned that my family plans in the future could lead to "limited progression prospects".
It also happens in a developed country like the U.S. It's a clear sign that gender equality is pervasive when even working moms there have the assumption that women with children are less interested in advancement opportunities. Many women are, justifiably, afraid to share their plans regarding marriage and pregnancy with their employers and will try to hide the fact or lie when answering questions regarding their desire to start a family at some point in their life.
If you look at it from the company's perspective, what companies do to women seems a little bit reasonable. Married women are likely to get pregnant or follow their husbands wherever they work, and it's public knowledge that companies don't want to take risks. However, it still begs the question: Must such inclination take precedence over progress?
In the end, women should work harder in the workplace
Women naturally should work twice as hard as men to obtain gender parity. Then, they should enhance their confidence and double their work capacity. It can be tiring, but the results are worth it, and once one learns that, they will become addicted to working harder.
This correlates with the findings revealed by Nineby9 that women with children who are returning to the workforce are twice as likely to prioritize organizational growth over personal growth when speaking about future goals. This is because a working mom wants to prove that she can do everything like an unmarried woman. The myths about women with children lacking commitment toward the workplace can be broken.
Women are bigger than society thinks they are. They have many different ways to grow — be it in career, business, or even personal fulfillment. If society gives them a chance, they can earn gender parity with their own hands.
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