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Access to Assets


women’s opportunities for career progression and reduce their final pension pay. “Earlier retirement ages for women may have made sense when most of the jobs relied on physical labor, but it doesn’t apply to the current situation anymore. At the age of 55, many women, just like their male counterparts, are at the prime of their experiences and management skills,” says Yang, chief executive and cofounder, Sun Media Holdings China, and owner of, China’s largest online portal for professional women (World Bank 2010). Further constraining women’s ability to develop their human capital is the lower probability that they will reach senior positions, in which they could better improve their business skills. World Bank Enterprise Surveys suggest that men predominate in senior decisionmaking positions throughout the region, with women occupying only 6.4 percent of senior positions in the private sector. Country-level data on the proportion of women in administrative and managerial positions, shown in figure 2.10, show that women continue to be at a disadvantage in pursuing these positions. Moreover, the East Asia and Pacific region seems to perform less well than other regions on this indicator, as the lower graph in the figure shows. This means that potential women entrepreneurs in the region are less likely to gain the same level of management experience as men. Country-level studies also indicate that women are concentrated in lower-level positions. In Vietnam, for example, even in sectors where women dominate, they rarely hold top decision-making positions. In Vietnam’s education sector, women represent 71 percent of workers, yet men head almost all educational institutions (World Bank 2006c). In Indonesia, across all sectors of the economy, women occupy only 14 percent of senior positions, compared with 86 percent for men (World Bank 2006b). Similarly, in Lao PDR, which has one of the highest female economic participation rates in the world (more than 70 percent), women in the formal sector are concentrated in lowskilled jobs (Siliphong, Khampoui, and Mihyo 2005). In addition, women’s business skills may be negatively affected by girls’ tendency to study only those school subjects linked to traditional ideas of women’s role in society. If women are to be more successful in the formal labor market or have a better chance of becoming successful entrepreneurs, it is important that they study in areas that are relevant to running a business. Research in Indonesia by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) noted that women were still pressured to study subjects that would prepare them for domestic functions (IFC 2006a). Likewise, in Thailand

Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region  

The East Asia and Pacific region has made great progress, relative to other regions, with regard to both economic development and, specifica...