Women take the lead


DOSM: More educated females in workforce compared to males

THERE are more educated women in the country’s workforce today as compared to men.

Malaysia has been one of the countries that perform exceedingly well on the indicators of access to schooling for girls, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow) executive director Sivananthi Thanenthiran told StarEdu.

“Year after year, there are more girls entering tertiary education institutions and graduating from them – by more than 100,000 according to recent data. Consistently, primary school enrolment and secondary school enrolment have been high in the last few decades,” she said.

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She said in the distant past, families had very little resources to educate all their children and preferred to put sons, especially the eldest, through school.

“Back then, gender roles were very prominent – and girls were groomed to be homemakers and mothers, and education was not seen as a priority for girls,” she added.

However, as economic conditions improved and the country developed, families had more resources. They also saw the significance in investing in and educating girls, she said.

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“But there is a wave of conservatism in society today and many groups that have emerged are now emphasising traditional gender roles being set in society – and the first step they take is to limit girls’ access to education – as demonstrated by the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“We have to be vigilant and prevent this from ever happening here,” she said, commenting on recent data from the Statistics Department (DOSM) which showed that working women in Malaysia had surpassed men in having an academic qualification.

The department’s Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains, Malaysia 2022 revealed that women had a score of 1.060 in the educational attainment sub-index.

A score with a value of 1.0 (100%) indicates the equality of women and men has been achieved.

The sub-index is one of four that are taken into account to calculate the Malaysia Gender Gap Index (MGGI) score (see infographic).The other sub-indices are economic participation and opportunity; health and survival; and political empowerment.

Asia School of Business Assoc Prof of Economics and MIT Sloan School of Management research affiliate Dr Melati Nungsari explained that a score of 1.0 indicates that women and men are equal in a particular dimension.

“A score of less than 1.0 would indicate that men are outperforming women and a score of more than 1.0 would indicate that women are outperforming men. “A score of 1.060 indicates that women are outperforming men in terms of educational attainment, as reflected by the fact that the majority of students enrolled in public universities are women,” she said.

The report, released in November last year, also showed that literacy rates for women between the ages of 15 and 64 stood at 96.2% while those of men were 96.5%.

The same survey found that gross enrolment rates for women at primary and secondary levels were higher than men at 98.4% and 94.5% compared with 98.1% and 90.6%, respectively.

A separate DOSM survey in 2021 found nearly two-thirds (61%) of students enrolled in undergraduate programmes in Malaysian universities and colleges were female (358,000 female students compared to 234,000 males). — By REBECCA RAJAENDRAM

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