4 in 10 women in S'pore face sex discrimination at work compared with 1 in 10 men: SCCCI survey

Only 12 per cent of those who faced gender discrimination made reports about the incidents.
Only 12 per cent of those who faced gender discrimination made reports about the incidents.PHOTO: PIXABAY

SINGAPORE - Four in 10 women have encountered gender discrimination in the workplace, while only one in 10 men has experienced the same, according to a recent survey of close to 400 people here.

Only 12 per cent of those who faced gender discrimination made reports about the incidents and all who did so are female.

Just under half of those who made reports felt that there was satisfactory action taken by their workplaces thereafter.

These findings were gathered by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) in a survey on gender issues in the workplace, conducted from November to December 2020.

SCCCI shared the survey results on Tuesday (March 30) after a dialogue on women's issues attended by Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling at Trade Association Hub in Jurong.

The survey was conducted after the Government announced in September 2020 that it was embarking on a comprehensive review of issues affecting women, which would be the foundation of a White Paper to be tabled in Parliament later this year.

There were 384 respondents to the SCCCI survey, of which two-thirds were female.

A majority of the respondents are aged between 41 and 60 (58.3 per cent), married (67.7 per cent), university graduates (82.6 per cent) and in full-time jobs (80.2 per cent).

Most of them are professionals or in a managerial role, while others are business owners, executives or in a technical role, among other jobs.

About 40 per cent work in small and medium-sized enterprises, while about 35 per cent work in multinational corporations. The rest work in other places such as the Government and non-profit organisations.

Gender bias poses a barrier in career advancement

Both men and women shared career aspirations of having higher financial and monetary reward (68.5 per cent versus 71.2 per cent), and being able to use their strengths and skills to the fullest to advance their careers (59.8 per cent versus 65.8 per cent).

The survey found that corporate culture favouring a particular gender and stereotypes that one gender is less competent are barriers in career advancement for more female respondents (45 per cent) than male respondents (about 30 per cent).

Female respondents identified significantly more with instances of gender discrimination, such as biases in interactions with customers, suppliers and in networks, gender being a consideration for promotions, and a pay gap for the same rank or job.

But six in 10 women agreed that their workplace provided sufficient support to achieve career goals. Three in four men agreed as well.

The survey also found that one in two female respondents factored in the ability to accommodate family and caregiving demands when seeking employment, while only one in three male respondents did so.

More women want to pursue a career that allows them to attain work-life balance (59.1 per cent), compared with men (49.6 per cent).

More men aspired to assume leadership or management positions (51.2 per cent) than women (39.7 per cent).

The survey also indicated that 37 per cent of respondents thought their workplaces regarded gender diversity as important, while 45 per cent were neutral and 18 per cent felt their workplaces treated it as not important.

Raise awareness of gender bias, equalise remuneration

To improve gender equality at work, the respondents identified raising awareness of gender discriminatory conduct and equalising remuneration packages as the top effective ways, according to the survey.

Participants also felt that remuneration gap and promotion opportunities could be better addressed in local employment laws and guidelines.

SCCCI noted that instances of gender discrimination continue to happen in the society and workplaces, and there needs to be an improved reporting system and processes to tackle the problem.

It suggested that more measures are needed to help women achieve career aspirations and advancement, including mentorship and flexible work arrangements

SCCCI president Roland Ng said: "While Singapore has advanced well to level the playing field for women, promoting gender equality remains an unfinished piece of work.

"I encourage women to continue to challenge themselves, to realise their fullest potential, and the whole of society to continue to render all the necessary support in this journey."

Ms Sun noted that the survey findings align with the feedback gathered from the various conversations as part of the review on women's issues here.

"I am glad to note that SCCCI has also proposed recommendations to support women," she said.

"SCCCI and other forward-thinking organisations understand the importance of uplifting women," she added.

"We need your support to foster a supportive workplace environment for women in your respective businesses and industries, and to positively influence your peers and partners to do so as well."