Gender gap: 'Lack of support' topmost challenge

It's 2020 but factors like gender role expectations remain a strong career barrier for many

Gender gap: 'Lack of support' topmost challenge

A new study revealed a huge gap between how men and women in Asia perceive gender issues at work.

When asked about opportunities for men and women in the workplace, 59% of men believed they’re equal. This is compared with only 37% of women who said they had equal opportunity to progress at work.

Additionally, while 72% of women agreed there is a pay gap between workers, only 44% of men said the same. These gaps contribute to womens lack of support, systemic challenges and a sense of powerlessness.

READ MORE: IWD 2020: Why are we failing to achieve leadership diversity?

The reality
The study found that men and women agree on the top three most important career-progressing opportunities — leadership development training, promotion and salary increase.

Although both request them a similar amount at work, women received fewer of them. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) study also found that men asked for promotions less often and received them more.

Gender role expectations are strong drivers — 70% of women and 48% of men agreed that society expects women to behave in ways which create roadblocks to womens leadership success.

These expectations are particularly strong around family responsibilities, and especially in Asia. For instance, if something happens at home, women are expected to take time off from work, while men must focus on their career. The bias affects both men and women.

READ MORE: One in two Singaporean women feel underpaid

Raise awareness through experience
The study thus demonstrated the importance of aligning awareness across the organisation to ensure more impactful diversity and inclusivity initiatives.

One way to drive a perception change is through experiences, according to the report. Professionals interviewed identified five meaningful experiences that can successfully raise awareness.

  1. Being a minority: Men and women shared that their own minority identities (culture, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.) helped them recognise the experience of women and see the importance of prioritising equity.
  2. Inspired by respected leaders: One male leader said his commitment to diversity was deeply influenced by the senior leaders who are “extremely people-oriented, extremely aware of the environment, especially sensitive to people as a whole, attentive listeners, attentive team leaders, and extremely scrupulous at choosing their team members.”
  3. Working with other social groups: Many interviewees shared that their experience working across countries, and/or with people with diverse backgrounds broadened their understanding of “others” and changed their views.
  4. Witnessing the organisational benefits of diversity: The positive impact of a concerted, organisational effort to support, develop, and promote women is the experience that opens minds and shifts perceptions.
  5. Becoming a parent: Research shows that CEOs with daughters are more likely to hire new female directors, and male chief executives with daughters are more likely to champion gender diversity. The “daughter effect” applies to both male and female leaders.

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