Vietnamese women outnumbered by men in top management roles: report

By Vi Vu   March 26, 2018 | 01:45 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese women outnumbered by men in top management roles: report
Women work at a garment factory in Hai Duong Province, outside Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham

30 percent of women say their pay is lower than their male colleagues, and nearly as many said they have fewer opportunities.

Vietnam has the lowest ratio of women in top management among Southeast Asia's five biggest economies, according to a Financial Times survey which looked into the region’s gender equality in the workplace.

The gender pay gap varies across the region, and while Indonesia is doing well, Malaysia and Vietnam are falling behind, the survey found.

Vietnam has the lowest female-to-male ratio in top management, with one woman to every eight men, compared with 5.6 men in Malaysia, 2.8 men in the Philippines and 2.2 in Thailand.

“Vietnam is likely to suffer the most from gender inequality if no action is taken,” the Financial Times said in a statement last week.

The report said that women in Vietnam, like in many Southeast Asian countries, still suffer from gender-based discrimination at work.

Vietnam had the largest proportion of respondents, nearly 30 percent, compared to less than 20 percent in other countries, who said that “women have fewer opportunities than men".

Most of these respondents were in the 25-to-35 age group, and were well-educated people with several years of working experience and good promotion prospects, but also pressured by society to marry and have children.

Vietnamese women think they have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace. Graphics by Financial Times

Vietnamese women think they have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace. Graphics by Financial Times

The newspaper surveyed 5,000 urban respondents in five ASEAN economies in December 2017, and found the highest female-to-male ratio in top management in Indonesia: one woman to every 1.2 men. Indonesia was the only country where satisfaction over career progression was higher among women than men, while salary growth for women in Thailand was greater than men.

When asked if their pay was lower than that of their male colleagues, 30 percent of respondents in Vietnam said yes, the second highest ratio after around 35 percent in Malaysia.

Vietnam’s workforce from 18 years of age amounted to 48.2 million at the end of last year, and 45.9 percent of them were women.

The Financial Times survey casts a dark shadow over brighter picture of Vietnamese employment painted by earlier reports.

In September last year, data from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), an American worldwide management consulting firm, showed that Vietnamese women held more leading positions on the business map compared to other countries in the region.

Women held 25 percent of CEO or board level positions in Vietnam, compared to 14 percent in Malaysia, 10 percent in Singapore and only 6 percent in Indonesia, the report said, as cited by Bloomberg.

A Deloitte LLP report in June 2017 also said Vietnam performed much better that its Asian peers, with women making up 17.6 percent of its corporate boards, higher than in Malaysia and Singapore.

 
 
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