4 Challenges That Women In Singapore Still Face At Work


Singapore has always prided herself on our people being her competitive advantage, and our women have contributed immensely to this. According to the 2014 Labour Force Statistics, the employment rate of women aged 25 to 54 rose to a record high of 76.0% in 2014. This has been attributed to a variety of reasons such as increased opportunities in the service sector, flexible work-life arrangements and tertiary education.

Although we recognize the importance of our women in our workforce, they often still encounter various challenges in the often male-dominated workplace that impede them from succeeding in their careers. Here are some of them:

1. Walking The Tightrope

When women are put in charge, those around them often expect them to possess both qualities of a leader as well as of a woman. These two roles often conflict because traits of a leader, such as being dominant and tough, do not align with what is expected of a woman, such as being supportive and amiable. Trying to balance on this tightrope can be demoralizing at times as women who voice their opinions frequently may be seen as being too aggressive. On the other hand, keeping to yourself during a meeting will often make a woman appear incompetent and hence marginalized.

However, this does not mean that women in Singapore have not succeeded in attaining leadership positions. In fact, we do have a higher percentage of female leaders in the boardroom than the global average, with 7% of women Singapore holding leadership positions as compared to the global average of 4%.

Therefore, there are ways to demonstrate your competencies and still exude femininity. For example, Eagly and Carli, authors of the book “Through the Labyrinth: The Truth about How Women Become Leaders”, explained that the idea of women being assertive may not exactly resemble the masculine notion of asserting leadership, such as approaching topics with a commanding tone. Instead, it can be a softer approach of mastering your job responsibilities or inviting people to participate activities and events. In order to reveal femininity, female leaders can support their colleagues warmly and create an inclusive working environment.

2. Double shifts

More often than not, women are seen to play a bigger role in taking care of the household, even if they are also employed. Although we have shifted away from the traditional view of gender roles, there is still a significant decline in the number of employed women beyond the age of 30. According to statistics, 41% of women outside the workforce said that family responsibilities such as housework, childcare or care-giving to their families are the main reasons for staying unemployed.

Having said that, it is still a significant shift from what we had ten years ago in 2004, and we can expect more women to remain employed as more families adopt a dual income approach. While women may still bear the brunt of household responsibilities, the men have been playing a more active role in child rearing. For example, many have reflected their desire for increased paternity leave even after the one week increase in paternity leave in the enhanced Marriage & Parenthood measures by the government. While it may be stressful to work and take care of the household at the same time, we can look forward to a more equal distribution of responsibilities between husband and wife in the future.

3. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is often a thorny issue around the world, and Singapore is no different. A research study in 2008 by AWARE found more than half of their respondents indicated that they had experienced workplace sexual harassment. Many of these respondents were between the ages of 20 to 35 and often do not voice out such acts of injustice because of fears of losing their job. Even though the majority of the public are aware about this issue, many are still not sure about how to seek redress within their workplace and are afraid to do so even if they knew how.

However, there has been an increasing awareness of the problem due to media attention and a gradual shift by a few progressive companies and organisations towards the implementation of internal policies that safeguard women’s interests. The Singapore Parliament also passed the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 (POHA) last year which involves a range of measures against stalking, harassment and other forms of anti-social behaviour. Evidently, there is much more that can be done to improve the awareness of company policies regarding sexual harassment and reduce the stigma behind it, but we are slowly making our way towards minimizing this issue.

4. Resume Differences

Beyond the issues faced at work, many women also face difficulties in the hiring process. Even though a woman may be as educated and qualified as a man, Kieran Snyder, CEO of Textio which specializes in analyzing job listings, says that men and women present themselves differently in their resumes and that can be the difference in getting that dream job. For example, although women’s resumes tend to be longer and more personal, men tend to focus on specific content and responsibilities.

The style of the resume would then depend on the type of industry you are applying to. If you are applying to a heavily male-dominated industry such as the tech industry, a more concise and precise communication style is more appreciated because it is easier to quantify and better understood.

If you are interested in obtaining a resume that is tailored to your needs, ResumeWriter.SG can help you craft a resume that will help you stand out among the pile of job applications and get you one step closer to getting your dream job. Contact us today for a free phone consultation with our writers!

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