With the latest population data showing women outnumbering men for the first time in a century, the Ministry of the Interior said it would seek to encourage more women to join the labor force.
“The labor participation rate for men is 66.7 percent, but the percentage is only about 50 percent for women,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said. “With women now outnumbering men, the nation may face a labor force crisis if it does not increase female participation.”
Population data released by the ministry on Wednesday last week showed that as of Nov. 30, there were 11,684,133 women in the country compared to 11,683,187 men.
Hsiao added that as the female population continues to grow, the population gap may widen.
Improving childcare and education may be a way to encourage more women to join the workforce, he said.
“If childcare expenses are greater than women’s salaries, many would choose to stay home to take care of their children instead of going out to work,” Hsiao said.
Ministry data showed that 86.9 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 29 are working, but that percentage drops to 77 percent for women aged 30 to 34, and goes down to 73 percent for those aged 35 to 38, which corresponds with the average age for marriage and childbirth, Hsiao said.
In related news, Tsai Bih-hwang (蔡璧煌), chairman of the Examination Yuan’s Civil Service Protection and Training Commission, said that although women outnumber men, decisionmaking positions in government are still dominated by male civil servants.
“The higher the positions, the fewer the number of female civil servants,” Tsai said.
However, the situation has been improving steadily, with a narrowing gap between the number of male and female public employees training for promotion.
“I believe the gender disparity in the civil service’s decision-making positions will improve significantly in 10 to 15 years,” Tsai added.
According to Examination Yuan statistics, female public employees account for 58 percent of low-ranking civil servant positions and 55 percent of middle-ranking positions, but only 28 percent of high-level posts.
This disparity is also reflected in average wages across the nation. Government data showed that the average monthly salary for men was NT$50,275 last year, while for women, it was NT$40,709.
In hourly terms, that means men were making NT$278 per hour, 16.6 percent higher than the average hourly pay for women of NT$232.
The Council of Labor Affairs said that such income disparities are common around the world, citing Japan’s gender-based pay gap of 34 percent, South Korea’s 32.7 percent and the US’ 19 percent.