SINGAPORE has done well in MasterCard’s latest survey on gender equality in Asia, being placed fourth among 16 Asia-Pacific nations, behind New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines.

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Image: The Straits Times

The poll, the MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement, studied the socio-economic standing of women using three yardsticks.

The “capability” component compared the rates of male and female enrolment in secondary and tertiary institutions. Singapore earned 97.9 points, reflecting near gender parity in education.

The “employment” criterion compared the rates of workforce participation and regular employment among men and women. Singapore was ranked seventh.

Although only 74.3 women are in the workforce here for every 100 men, women are more likely than men to be in regular employment, with 109.8 women for every 100 men in a regular job.

“Leadership” measured the ratio of women to men in business ownership and leadership, as well as political participation.

Singapore was placed third in this category overall and first among developed Asian markets that also included Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

The Republic’s score of 41.5 indicates that for every 100 male business owners, business leaders and political leaders here, there are 41.5 female counterparts.

New Zealand and the Philippines were the only polled markets with more than half as many female as male leaders.

The report noted that women across the region performed well in education and employment, with women equal to or outnumbering men in tertiary institutions in 10 of the 16 markets surveyed and in regular employment in 11.

However, this failed to translate into increased female representation in business leadership.

The report added that leadership had remained the weakest of the three yardsticks since 2007.

MasterCard Asia-Pacific group head of communications Georgette Tan called this “concerning” as studies had shown that firms with more female leaders outdid those with fewer.

The Straits Times reported on March 7, for example, that a joint study by search firm Korn Ferry and the NUS Business School had found that firms with at least 10 per cent female directors enjoyed a 3.6 per cent higher return on equity and a 1.3 per cent higher return on assets on average than firms not meeting this number.

This article was first published on The Straits Times, Mar 28, 2015.