No need for law on number of women in boardrooms

There is no compelling evidence to legislate the number of women in the boardroom ("More can be done for women and people with disabilities" by Ms Anthea Ong; last Tuesday).

According to the Credit Suisse Gender 3000 report, in 2013, women held 15 per cent of chief executive positions in Singapore, the highest in Asia and third highest in the world.

However, the percentage of women in the boardroom stood at 9.5 per cent last year.

In our meritocratic system, women with ability who put themselves up for top positions are rewarded based on merit.

The big difference between the percentage of women CEOs and women in the boardrooms shows that women exercise judgment in their career choices. Women are clearly not putting themselves forward to serve in boardrooms.

Serving in the boardrooms requires time and effort on top of a regular job. This may put off some women who prefer to spend more time with their family.

The choice Singaporean women make not to serve in boardrooms is not a sign of weakness. Rather, being able to make choices in life could be a sign of a high standard of living enjoyed by them.

To make a comparison, although the Philippines is ranked much higher than Singapore in the World Economic Forum's 2015 Global Gender Gap Report, which looks at resources and opportunities available, many women in the Philippines are still mired in poverty and lack opportunities for education and employment.

Singaporean women, however, enjoy good education and employment opportunities within a safe environment.

Singaporean women need to break out of their comfort zones in order to reach greater heights. Legislating to improve the standing of women is not the solution.

Sulthan Niaz

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'No need for law on number of women in boardrooms'. Print Edition | Subscribe