Despite more women than men in Asia Pacific having tertiary education, there still exists a large gender gap that hinders women from achieving their full economic potential, be it through participation in the work force or presence in leadership positions, according to the latest MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement.
In 12 out of 18 Asia-Pacific markets, women outnumber men in university education gross enrollment rate, with New Zealand (141.8), Australia (137.5) and Thailand (134.5) taking the top spots. Significant progress has been made in Indonesia with enrollment in advanced education having grown from 87.2 in 2007 to 105.1 in 2016. However, educational attainment is not translating into work force participation in many markets. More women than men are entering university in New Zealand, China and the Philippines, but women are still much less likely to be in the work force.
Overall New Zealand ranked first (78.0), followed by Australia (76.0) and the Philippines (71.4). At the other end of spectrum, Japan (49.5), Bangladesh (45.5), Sri Lanka (44.3), India (38.0) and Pakistan (23.4) had index scores indicating that much more can be done to achieve gender parity.
The index measures the socioeconomic standing of women across 18 Asia-Pacific markets and is comprised of three main indicators, which are derived from additional subindicators: Capability (secondary education, tertiary education) Employment (work force participation, regular employment); and Leadership (business owners, business leaders, political leaders). The scores above show the proportion of women to every 100 men. A score of 100 indicates equality between the sexes.
“Gender gaps in access to education have narrowed over the years, but we still have a long way to go before women across Asia Pacific are equally represented in business and politics.
“The lack of critical mass in women’s representation and participation in the economy—coupled with the inadequate and inconsistent implementation of equality legislation—continues to be the biggest challenge for women, and is reflected across all markets irrespective of the pace of economic development,” said Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard.
“Access is crucial to integrating female talent in the economy, as women still don’t have the same access to job opportunities or even social networks as men. A range of factors impacting the economic contributions made by women in the work force also need to be addressed, including country-specific sociocultural factors, traditional beliefs and government policies. Closing the gender-equality gap and leveling the employment playing field would benefit not just women, but the global economy as a whole.”