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Hong Kong women managers

A slow and steady increase in the number of women working at the post of manager or even higher is being observed in Hong Kong. Women managers are not receiving the same pay as male managers though the pay of women mangers is very close to that of male managers. The increase in number of women managers in Hong Kong can be explained at the macro level by saying that anti sex discrimination laws are present in Hong Kong, population is receiving fair education and the capitalistic economic system of Hong Kong is ruthless competitive. Gender stereotyping is still profound in Hong Kong society.

Gender discrimination is still present at home and workplace. Women in Hong Kong are considered as the only responsible person to look after the household. This responsibility is not taken off their shoulders even when they are working full-time paid jobs. Thus the life for Hong Kong women is very tough especially for women managers who are married and have kids. These married women managers go through a high degree of stress as they have to face wok-family conflicts. There are very few workplaces in Hong Kong that have implemented policies to support women and understand the family commitments.

There are several barriers that come in the way of career development of Hong Kong women managers. These women managers face everyday discriminatory attitudes at their workplace where their colleagues keep on finding their suitability to work as managers. Number of women managers is very less so they face pressure from tokenism. Socialization at work becomes very difficult for women managers due to the presence of old-boy networks. Sexual harassment is also very common for women managers at workplaces in Hong Kong. 1. 2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

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The purpose of this study is to present an analysis of the situation that women managers face in Hong Kong. This is done with the help of census data showing in the literature review and by interviewing Hong Kong women managers about their lives and work-family conflict and stress. The present study addresses several aims which are given below: ? To find out the situation that Hong Kong women managers face at their workplace. ? To find out what types of tensions Hong Kong women managers go through. ? To find out what strategies Hong Kong women managers use to cope despite these tensions.

? To find out what organizational and societal factors are responsible for such tensions. The rate of women managers in Hong Kong has shown remarkable rise from 1994 to 2002. Census data obtained from Hong Kong Government (2003) shows that the rate of women managers in Hong Kong was 17. 4% in 1994 which had steadily grown to 25. 7% in 2002. Table 1 shows the rates of women managers in Hong Kong since 1994 till 2002. The trend is clearly showing a positive and steady growth but it is also clear that men are still dominating the high positions at workplace.

Women are not given managers’ and higher positions in all the industries and their distribution is very uneven. An example can be taken from manufacturing industry where in 2001, 38. 2 % of the employees were females but females contributed only 19. 0% of the managers and higher posts. This shows that women are not considered as favorite to be managers and administrators in manufacturing industry. A contrasting statistics is found in the Community, Social and Personal Services (CSPS) where 63. 9% of the employees were females and the managers and administrators comprised of 43. 9% females.

So it can be said that women managers are more appreciated in CSPS then in manufacturing industry. Table 2 shows that despite the high proportion of females in CSPS sector, the proportion of females is still less than 50%. Hong Kong women attain high education that has contributed to their career development. Mak & Chung (1997) explained that nine years education became compulsory for girls and boys by the Hong Kong government in 1978. Students could not leave the school legally before15 years of age. The nine years of compulsory education was combined with a grant and loan scheme that had been introduced in 1969.

The purpose of this combination of compulsory education’s nine years and grant and loan scheme was to give financial support to students that belong to weak financial background and cannot afford their academic expenditures. This resulted in a high enrolment number of students both male and female from different social backgrounds (Mak, 1992). Government educational institutes that were funded for tertiary education had the greater number of female students’ enrolments than male students’ enrolments (Hong Kong Government, 2003b: 38).

Despite achieving higher education, all the women in Hong Kong did not get opportunities to work in organizations. The rate of women participation in labor force had increased from 48. 9% (1986) to 52. 0% in 2002. Where as, the rate of male participation in labor force had increased to 72. 5% in 2002 (Hong Kong Government 2003b: 52). So, the rate of labor participation of females is less than males that can be explained not only in terms of education but marriage too. It is found from the statistics that unmarried women participate as actively in economic activities as men.

Statistics also show that the rate of participation in labor force is same for women who never-marry and men and it is equal to 68%. Where as, the rate of participation in labor force of married women is 45% which is still very low than the rate for married men which is equal to 74. 8% (Hong Kong Government, 2003b: 53). Table 3 shows that in 2001, 30. 1% of the females aged 15 and above and 33. 9% of the males aged 15 and above had never married. Approximately 39. 1% employed women had never-married where as 30. 7% employed men had never-married.

Careful observation across different occupations shows that this gender pattern is more commonly found among managers and administrators. Approximately 27. 6% of the women managers and administrator had never married where as only a half of this rate, that is, 13. 9% of the male managers and administrators had never married. The female to male median income per month is showing in table 5. It is found that this median income from major employment has risen from 0. 65 (1981) to 0. 71 (2001). The net income of women workers is much less than the net income of men workers.

This is because majority of women workers are paid very low and working at low positions. The median value for female to male earning is 0. 93 for the position of managers and administrators in 2001 (Hong Kong Government, 2002: 61). As a large number of females managers had never married as compared to male managers so the female to male ratio of earning is very high for the never married managers (0. 90 in 2001). Where as, the female to male ratio of earning for managers who are married is much low and equals to 0. 65 in 2001.

When the female to male earning ratio was studied out for 1981 to 2001 for all age groups then it was found that in 2001 in a given set of working population, the earning of women was more than that of men and women earned more than 10% than men. The age group of this population ranges from 55-64 years and they had never married. Though last decade has shown steady increase in the number of female managers and administrators and the difference between the pay of male and female managers has decreased but still there are two issues that are essential to be carefully examined.

First, though women receive the same education as men then why the proportion of women in labor market is less than men? Why do female managers prefer to never marry as compared to men managers? There are some factors that push women managers to progress in their careers where as there are some other factors that pull women managers to gain opportunities essential to gain equal development in their careers as compared to men managers.

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