Women find work-life balance elusive: survey

By Kuan-lin Liu, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A local job bank survey found that 74 percent of women in Taiwan had changed their career path due to marriage or family.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, 1111 Job Bank released the findings of a survey it conducted on the realities faced by married women and women with families in the workplace. The survey found that a majority of married women and mothers (75 percent) were engaged in some form of work that provided a source of income. Sixty-six percent of these respondents were professional, working mothers, while almost 10 percent of respondents worked part-time or freelance.

The remaining 25 percent of women were full-time housewives, many of whom had given up their jobs for their families. In fact, of the 74 percent who made changes to their careers due to family factors, nearly 20 percent of these women left the workforce to be full-time mothers.

An analysis of data provided by the Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan finds that women’s participation in the workforce peaks at the 25 to 29-year-old age range and starts to fall upon 30.

A comparison of men and women’s participation in the professional sphere reveals that after age 30, the percentage of women in the workplace is lower than that of men by about 14 percentage points. The Professional & Domestic Spheres

1111’s Deputy General Manager Lee Da-hua (李大華) attributed the current trends in women’s participation in the workforce to the prevalence of traditional gender norms. The matter-of-fact attitude that many possess regarding women’s role as the primary homemaker and caretaker makes it so that women’s participation and compensation in the workplace decreases after marriage and pregnancy, Lee said.

The survey found 47 percent of women who chose to stay in the professional sphere after starting a family reported “a hard time at work.”

Of these women, 18.5 percent received implicit signals and 14.6 percent explicit signals that their families would be an impediment for them at work.

This could explain that large percentage of women with families who are not satisfied with their current work situation. Thirty-six percent of women gave their situation a score between 41 and 60, meaning that it was unsatisfactory but that they were trying to change the situation.

Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent of respondents gave their condition a score between 21 and 40, meaning they were unhappy with their situation but felt they did not have the ability to change it.

Overall, the average score was 39, painting a rather bleak picture for how women perceived their current situation at work and at home and their ability to change things.