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Employment of Women in Chinese Cultures

Half the Sky

Edited by Cherlyn Skromme Granrose

Examining the employment lives of Chinese women living under different government systems at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the contributors to this volume present an overview of factors affecting the employment status of women. The volume includes chapters on the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – nations that have common Chinese cultural experiences but very different economic systems and government structures.
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Chapter 6: The Impact of Government and Family Responsibilities on the Career Development of Working Women in Singapore

Irene K.H. Chew and Naresh Khatri


Irene K.H. Chew and Naresh Khatri Singapore, a 616 sq km island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, gained independence from colonial Western rule and Japanese domination by declaring independence in 1959. Thrust suddenly on its own after the war, the largely Chinese population led by a paternalistic father figure, Lee Kuan Yew, evolved a democratic capitalist economy governed by a single strong leader modeled on a traditional Chinese hierarchical family with a supportive, subordinate legislative and civil service system. In the beginning days of independence, fear of communism justified strong central control over many aspects of public and private life. Even after the immediate post-war threat of communism faded, a key assumption of the role of government in society persists that it is appropriate for the government to set important rules and policies regarding both employment and family. Civil rights laws protect the rights of all minority groups in a society with a significant number of Malays (16 percent), Indians (6.5 percent), and smaller numbers of Europeans and others (2.3 percent); however success in the large civil service and educational system depends upon performance in centralized examinations. Access to these opportunities is easier for male Chinese than for any other group in the society, in part because many families are willing to pay more money to educate sons rather than daughters. In 1990 Lee Kuan Yew stepped down in favor of a hand-picked successor. While the public leadership was transferred, the old founder retains considerable power...

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