Women’s Advancement in Asia Pacific

Women are still facing barriers to leadership positions in the government and private sector across the Asia/Pacific region, according to MasterCard’s latest Index of Women’s Advancement. See the infographic reflecting the Asia/Pacific data.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement measures the socioeconomic standing of women across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Index is comprised of three main indicators which are derived from additional sub-indicators: Employment (Workforce Participation, Regular Employment), Education (Secondary Education, Tertiary Education) and Leadership (Business Owners, Business Leaders, Political leaders). Each indicator measures the ratio of women to every 100 men in each of the 14 1 Asia/Pacific markets covered by the research.

Scores are indexed to 100 to indicate how close or how far women in each market are to achieving socio-economic parity with men. A score under 100 indicates gender inequality in favor of males while a score above 100 indicates inequality in favor of females. A score of 100 indicates equality between the sexes. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.

Overall, amongst the 14 Asia/Pacific markets, New Zealand ranked first (77.8 Index Score), followed by Australia (76.0), the Philippines (70.5), Singapore (67.5) and Taiwan (64.7). At the other end of spectrum, India (38.0), Japan (48.1) and Korea (49.7) had Index scores indicating that much more can be done to achieve gender parity.

MasterCard’s research on women’s advancement shows that while more women have access to job opportunities and tertiary education in Asia/Pacific, there are still barriers preventing them from taking top positions in the government or private sector.

At 91.2, New Zealand tops the region for workforce participation and regular employment with over 90 women for every 100 men in the regular workforce. New Zealand women also lead the region for top jobs in the private sector and government with an overall leadership score of 51.6.

In 7 Asia/Pacific markets – China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – women are on par or better represented in secondary and tertiary institutions than their male counterparts.1 Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, their representation in leadership roles in business and government is still low across the region. All but one market – New Zealand – had fewer than 50 women business/government leaders for every 100 male business/government leaders, according to the scores of the latest index.  Across the 14 Asia/Pacific markets, only Australia (49.7) and the Philippines (45.6) came close to gender parity. Markets that scored especially low in this category include India (15.9) Japan (14.8), Korea (17.5) and Thailand (18.6).

Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, said: “There is still a lot to be done in our region to enhance the role of women across all aspects of society; there are still too few women leaders in government and business, and not enough women-owned and run businesses. There are standout markets which have repeatedly improved in terms of advancing opportunities and access for women, but more needs to be done.” 

When asked what would help improve women’s societal standing, MasterCard’s latest survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities – Education found that women in Asia/Pacific view affirmative action (17.1%) and more seats in parliament (13.7%) as policies that would advance women’s role in society. Parental childcare entitlement tops the list of key policy areas Australian, Japanese and South Korean women see as crucial for advancing women’s role in society.

In China, Malaysia and Taiwan, however, women see SME opportunities as the most pressing need to achieve gender parity in their societies.

Source: Mastercard Press Release Singapore 6 March 2013

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