SHRI Survey 2011: Women in Leadership!

Women in Leadership Survey Findings 2011.

Executive Summary

There is a strong consensus that women professionals in Singapore can successfully lead an organization. With more women taking ownership of their career, they feel they have been able to balance career even with an array of obligations – both at work and in personal life.

‘Women in Leadership’ Survey 2011 is a SHRI initiative dedicated to supporting the national agenda of leveraging women power throughout the Singaporean workforce and the broader community. Covering all aspects of leadership capability, career progression and work/life balance of a woman, this survey was an effort to delve deeper into every stage of women’s leadership journey.

As more women enter the workforce and take up leadership positions, it may be necessary to look at what factors encourage or discourage them to become leaders. This study provides preliminary evidence that women bring clear personality and motivational strengths to leadership.

Summary of Key Findings

Decision Dilemmas

  • Over half of the respondents have caring responsibilities at home.
  • Nearly 60% of the respondents believe that decision to start a family is a limiting factor for women concerning her career development.

Women @ Work

  • Over one-fifth of the respondents felt that they were not allowed to take up challenging assignments; one-fourth of them felt that they were not nominated for a leadership position, whereas one-third of them noted that they were not rewarded equally as compared to male colleagues in similar job roles/position.
  • A majority of the respondents reported workload, behaviour of the boss and control over work related matters to be key stress related hazards at the workplace; Whereas interpersonal relationships, work-Life balance and family friendly
  • Organizational culture is regarded as factors cushioning them against a stressful work environment.
  • The survey also revealed that not enough women have access to flexi-work arrangements. There is a gap between availability of flexible working arrangements and number of women accessing it. The flexible working arrangement accessed by the majority of women is flexi-time.
  • More than one third of the respondents noted Administrative & Support service followed by Education and Health & Social Work respectively to be the top three job sectors best suited for women.
  • Challenges at the workplace
    60% of respondents are proud of their organisation but felt that they do not have a future with the organisation. Over two-thirds said they were allowed to take up challenging assignments and were rewarded equally with male colleagues in similar job roles/positions. 76% received nominations for leadership positions.
  • Boss Bully
    While gender discrimination is not apparent at the workplace, it still exists. 6% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at the workplace. 69% said the behaviour of the boss is a key stress hazard.
  • Commitments
    Despite the heavy commitments at home and at the workplace, 72% of respondents said that they were able to balance the demands of their careers with their obligations in their private life.
  • More women are taking ownership of their career
    About half the respondents said they were primarily responsible for their career and leadership development.
  • Leadership Development Training
    The two most beneficial training are mentoring (65.5%) and career planning & advice (60%). ‘On-the-job training’ was preferred over ‘formal training’.

Action Time – Change Ahead

In Singapore, a record 71.7% of women in the prime-working ages of 25 to 54 were working in 2010, up notably from 69.4% in 2009. Nevertheless, their employment rate was still below the 92.4% for prime-working age men, which increased from 91.6% in 2009 (Ministry of Manpower Singapore, 2010).

On one hand, increase in women participation in the workforce has a positive impact on economic growth of the country on the other hand there are challenges of falling birth rates.

But, to every challenge there is a solution and it is more a matter of choice. It is action time and more needs to be done if the voices of the women leaders and would be leaders are genuinely heard. Here’s a sneak peak to what they say and what is to be done.

“We need to gain more insights on how female employees are treated once they are back to the work-force after taking a four month-long maternity leave. We might have heard many grievances and feedback… It is a sad scene and perhaps the reason why the birth-rate is really declining”.

“Flexible Work arrangements will allow more women to return to the workforce and also fewer women to drop out of the workforce. It will help women maintain a sense of achievement while managing their families”.

“Allow ease of re-entry into workforce after child-care leave, and consider revision of remuneration that matches rate of inflation, rather than last drawn pay”

“Better Government support in the form of grants, subsides for married women with children as it’s not easy to strike a balance in family and work life. As women, we have many roles to play….”

“Women need to support each other and establish strong networks in order to compete with the male dominated hierarchy and traditional networks”!

For any enquiries, please contact Mr. Sathish by phone at +65 64380012 or email