Addressing Gender Inequality 

This is part 2 of a 2 part series where we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being a Singaporean man/woman.

In part one of this two-part series, I wrote ‘Why Being A Singaporean Man Isn’t As Easy As Girls Think’ to start a conversation about gender equality in Singapore.

In 48 hours, the article elicited a reaction which prompted 9,814 clicks, 206 shares, 155 likes, 4 loves, 41 hahas, 4 wows, and 1 “PREACH”.

Some disagreed with the piece, saying Singaporean women have it a lot worse. They further criticised how the article reflected generalised opinions and anecdotal references from the currently 319 Reddit comments.

We agree the article’s reach and Reddit thread was only a small sample size. But for these men, their experience is real, hence it is an experience I feel we should try to understand and listen to, even if we do not necessarily agree with it.

Listen to each other

One Facebook commenter said, “WOMEN ARE NOT RUNNING WILD, THIS IS EQUALITY U MISOGYNISTIC SWINE. Deal with it!”

However, I don’t think it does any good to point fingers and call those who are sexist “SEXISTS!!!” because it doesn’t make them any less misogynistic or prone to using the word “[email protected]”. Neither does telling people they’re homophobic push them to be pro-LGBT.

It’s also not ‘woke’ to invalidate the struggles and insecurities some men face by essentially saying, “Women have it way worse so you should stop complaining”.

These actions only create a wider gulf and greater lack of understanding between the opposing camps.

Rather, individuals from both groups should take the time to make each other feel heard, before gently prompting one another to question if their beliefs hold water.

The only way someone can choose to change their opinion is when they accept an idea on their own terms. And one way we can do this is to present statistics without pushing our own beliefs.

Feminism today

Feminists are not always right. As with all ideologies, the feminist discourse can be contradictory and varied and are interpreted differently by each individual.

But, there are many who are willing to listen.

At the end of the day, both genders face unique issues. As user eilletane says, “I guess the world is a nasty place, we should all just try to work together against this instead of taking sides and complaining who gets it worse.”

And just I agree with her because, just like how this song goes, I know that we can all be friends.


Gendered statistics at the workplace, marriage, etc.

If you would still like to decide who gets it worse, here are some stats on the topics discussed.

Overall inequality

Singapore ranks 11th for gender equality out of the 159 countries (Human Development Report, 2016).
Singapore’s Gender Inequality Index (GII) is 0.068 out of 1.

Singapore’s Gender Parity Score is 0.68.
But Singapore has high or extreme gender inequality in leadership positions, legal protection, and political representation (McKinsey Global Institute, 2018).

Earning power

The median female monthly salary is S$3,382.
The median male monthly salary is S$3,991, approximately 18% more (ValuePenguin, using stats from the Ministry of Manpower, 2018).

There is a sentiment that men lose out in their career and earnings because of National Service. Currently, there are no statistics calculating exactly how much men lose during these two years.

But if we take the stats for the median wage, assume girls begin working at 24 and men at 26 till they’re 62 (Singapore’s minimum retirement age), and disregard wage increases and bonuses, men earn S$181,920 more than women in their lifetime.

Singapore does not have laws mandating non-discrimination based on gender in hiring, or laws stipulating equal pay for work of equal value (The World Bank Women Business and Law, 2018).

Positions of leadership

Singaporean women hold 10.7% of all board seats; men hold 89.3% (Deloitte, 2017).

33% of the Top 100 SGX-listed companies have more than 20% women’s participation on boards; 27% were all-male boards.
Women’s participation on boards of all 738 SGX-listed companies is at 11.2% (Diversity Action Committee, 2018).

Singaporean women hold 23% of Parliament seas; men hold 77% (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2018).

Some reasons women earn less
1) Men are seen as more suitable as leaders for usually higher paying managerial positions (Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor, 2014).

2) Women tend to work in lowly-paid industries such as childcare and social work (Ministry of Social and Family Development, 2015).

3) If women choose to have children, they often have to decide between juggling both career and raising children or withdrawing from their jobs completely*.

*Female labour force participation rates

89.6% for women aged 25-29 years; 90.7% for men.
78.9% for women aged 40-44 years, 97.0% for men (Ministry of Manpower, 2017).

The 6.3% increase in men’s constant labour force participation rate versus the 10.7% decrease for women’s, suggest the role of marriage and fertility causes women to withdraw from the labour force.

Sexual harassment

Of the reported 1,368 outrage of modesty cases, 1,267 (92.6%) happened to women, 101 (7.4) happened to men (Ministry of Social and Family Development, 2016). But this figure inaccurate depicts the actual number of outrage of modesty cases.

Only 6% who have experienced sexual violence sought help; 94% of sexual assault cases go unreported (Singapore’s Sexual Assault Care Centre, 2015).

Body image

(Here, we use eating disorders as the extreme symptom for body image pressures and issues.)

Less than 10% of those who seek help for eating disorders are men (Singapore General Hospital Eating Disorders Programme, 2016).

Cheating partners

Currently, there are no statistics on cheating girlfriends or wives.

A small survey of 20 veteran family lawyers and private investigators revealed 50% of adultery cases during divorce occur because of a cheating wife (The Straits Times, 2016).

Job discrimination against men (reservist)

Currently, there are no statistics which back that men face discrimination because of reservist cycles.

But there are personal recounts online and the sentiment that men with reservist cycles left are discriminated against.

42.1% of the employed servicemen “slightly agreed”, “agreed” or “strongly agreed” employers tend to prefer to hire those who do not have NS commitments (Institute Policy Studies, 2013).

Job discrimination against pregnant women

57 pregnant women were unfairly dismissed from their jobs in 2015, a decrease from 90 cases of unfair dismissal in 2012 (Ministry of Manpower, 2017).

There are personal recounts online and the sentiment that discrimination against mothers-to-be can begin as early as from the job interview stage.

Marriage and dating

Of the 28,322 marriages in 2015, 27% of marriages occur between Singaporeans and Non-Residents (Ministry of Social and Family Development, 2017; Department of Statistics Singapore, 2016).

Among these transnational marriages (2015)
Singaporean men marrying Non-Residents decreased from 80% in 2011 to 75%.
Singaporean women marrying Non-Residents increased from 20% in 2011 to 25%.

Women’s Charter

Understanding the need for the women’s charter and how women do not have an unfettered right to alimony.

Gay sex and male rape

Under S375A, Singapore laws define rape as the “any man who penetrates the vagina of a woman with his penis without her consent” (Singapore Statutes Online).

Due to the way rape is defined, a man cannot be a victim of rape by a woman. However, male rape (by a woman) can be charged as sexual assault by penetration as per S376 read with S377C.

But because S375 the penal code omits any offence for intercourse between women, lesbian sex is not illegal as there is no penile penetration involved during lesbian sex.

Male rape (by a man) will be charged under S377A and read with S377C. Female rape (by a woman) will be charged under S376, but it must involve penetration (e.g. fingers).

Women In Singapore

Hopefully, this article has helped you gain some perspective on the topic of gender equality.

I’ve tried my best to provide the most accurate and recent statistics, but I might have missed a couple. If you would like to contribute more statistics or let us know what you think, drop us an email at [email protected]

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Cover image: Source