Study shows more women working, but for lower pay

GENDER EQUALITY: The number of women in the work force has risen steadily but they still are paid less than their male colleagues, a report says


Sat, Feb 03, 2001 - Page 3

Though the number of women employed has been on the rise over the past 20 years in Taiwan, they generally fill inferior positions and are paid less than male employees, a new study shows.

According to a study released yesterday by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), female labor force participation in Taiwan has steadily increased and was up to 45.6 percent in 1999. This compares with 1983 when less than 40 percent of women in Taiwan were part of the labor force.

It was also found that female employees in Taiwan are paid less than men, at a ratio of 72.9 percent on average. The reason given for the gap is that women generally take up "non-professional" positions and it is usually men who take the top positions, according to the author of the study, Huang Jen-teh (黃仁德), an economics professor at National Chengchi University.

While the study shows that the pay gap between women and men has narrowed over the past 20 years, progress has been slow as far as gender equality and pay is concerned.

It was found the women working in the banking and real estate industries are least affected by gender differences. It is in these two industries that the pay gap between male and female employees is smallest. The situation is different, however, in the services industry, in which over two-thirds of Taiwanese women are working. Despite the fact that more females than males are employed in the service industry, women are paid 25 percent less.

The study, which looks at female labor participation in the past 20 years, also indicated that participation by women in the labor force has shifted from the manufacturing industry to retailing, food, banking and service industries.

It was also found that women employees left their jobs for reasons such as education, marriage, pregnancy, housework, or being laid off. In 1999, 20 percent of women quit their jobs in order to take care of housework and 11 percent quit after getting married or pregnant. Huang also noted that more and more women have become unemployed as a result of layoffs or closures in recent years.

The CLA admitted that female labor force participation in Taiwan is lower than developed countries, such as the US (60.0 percent) and Japan (50.1 percent), but also Taiwan's major economic competitors in Asia, Korea (47.0 percent), Singapore (51.3 percent) and Hong Kong (48.5 percent).

This could be attributed to the fact that labor participation of women aged between 45 and 64 is comparatively low in Taiwan, according to Huang.