The finance and insurance industries lead Singapore’s high-growth sectors in terms of parity between males and females, according to research by the McKinsey Global Institute.
The study suggests that Singaporean women are underrepresented in the upper ranks of many fast-growing sectors of the economy. However, finance and insurance are exceptions, where the numbers of male and female leaders are almost equal.
By increasing female representation in top jobs, an additional SG$26 billion could be added to the economy by 2025, or an additional growth of 5% per year, reported the Straits Times.
Learning institutions and employers can address this gender gap by putting in place measures that will encourage girls and young women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The study by McKinsey Global Institute also calculated a gender parity score, which is an aggregate of 20 indicators of gender inequality – 15 in the workplace and five in society as a whole. Singapore scored 0.68, which was higher than the average for the Asia-Pacific region at 0.44. Singapore was slightly behind the Philippines, which led the region with a score of 0.73.
The report revealed that Singaporean girls are less interested in STEM careers than boys. It cited the example of the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing, where only 32% of its student population is female. The figure is similar for Nanyang Technological University’s computer science program, which was only 27% female.
“I actually think Singapore... does well in STEM,” Diaan-Yi Lin, managing partner of McKinsey’s Singapore office, was quoted as saying by ST. “Singapore has a lot of the structural things done right. For example, we have all-girls schools. The probability of girls in an all-girls schools continuing with science is much higher than in a mixed school. We know that the participation in junior colleges is still very good. But for whatever reason, they still shy away from jobs.”
Lin also suggested that women can take ownership of their careers, such as using SkillsFuture credits to enrol in STEM-related programmes.