Intro: Small steps can make a big difference in bridging the gender inequality gap… we all have a role to play.
Population wise, the number of women in Hong Kong outnumber men 55% vs 45%. However, when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, women have yet to reach parity. A contributing factor is that the social attitudes towards women in Hong Kong remains fairly traditional, pegging women in the role of homemaker and mother — despite them also being breadwinners. Women are also expected to look after elderly relatives, a phenomenon that continues to rise as Hong Kong’s population ages due to a low birthrate. In fact there is a substantial dropout rate of women from the workforce after marriage and childbearing. The statistics don’t lie:
- Women earn an average of 22% less than their male counterparts. A 2016 census report indicated that women working in Hong Kong’s education sector earned HKD 9,800 per month less than men, followed closely by those in the finance industry where women earned HKD 8,800 less than men.
- Women represent only 13.8% of Hang Seng Index company boards – half of the 26% in the UK.
- When it comes to women in leadership roles, Hong Kong lags behind the likes of Malaysia with only 29% in active participation.
When you don’t have enough visible women leaders to aspire to, it makes barriers to entry in the workplace seem even tougher for more than half of the population. Luckily, there are signs of positive change. According to the UN’s 2018 Human Development Index Ranking, Hong Kong ranks 7th out of 189 countries. This means we’re making progress in key areas such as years of schooling and Gross National Income but there is still more work to be done in other areas.
What should we be doing differently to propel change? In no particular order (or scientific methodology!), here’s a list suggestions at a grassroots level:
- Engage men and boys from the onset. We need our male allies to help us drive the gender equality agenda and understand the female perspective.
- Continue to be part of the #metoo movement. Help facilitate dialogue and support both survivors and activists alike.
- Check your bias and privilege at the door. Stereotyping and discrimination takes many different forms so be more conscious of what you say, do and how you act and how this makes others feel.
- Get involved and give back. There are plenty of organisations that specifically advocate women’s issues. Events like TedxTinHauWomen’s “Showing Up Now” on 30 November are organised by an army of volunteers who want to make a difference.
What will you do to show up now for gender parity?
Get your tickets for 30 November here: http://pelago.me/TEDxTinHauWomen
Written by: Preema on behalf of TEDxTinHauWomen