Chapter 11: Managing Diversity: Women Managers in Asia
Chris Rowley, Vimolwan Yukongdi and Jean Qi Wei Introduction Asia has experienced rapid economic growth leading to significant increases in demand for managers, at least up to the late 2008 financial crisis. Reflecting this, particularly in South East Asia, women’s participation rates in the labour force were ranked among the highest globally by the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2007). Contributing to this were falling fertility rates while women became more educated and qualified for management. So, the number of Asian women managers is predicted to rise. Thus, women have increasing opportunities, and indeed increasing numbers have attained managerial positions. However, studies such as Rowley and Yukongdi (2009) indicate some key issues. Influence from Asian cultures and religious traditions have been used to explain women’s underutilisation and under-representation in management (Adler, 1993–94; Omar and Davidson, 2001). Reviews of women in management (that is, Omar and Davidson, 2001) also found differences in experiences due to locality uniqueness. Women in Asia might encounter greater challenges due to societal culture and traditions. One aim of this chapter is to examine such influences on organisational and management practices, and how these affect women in management in Asian economies. To help explain this further, our chapter uses the gender–organisation–system perspective as the theoretical framework to explain the under-representation and underutilisation of women in management. Linked to this is the evolution of ideas and ‘solutions’ to problems. Thus, the earlier ideas behind ‘equal opportunities’ and underpinning rationale of trying to make everyone the same,...
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