The changing face of women managers in Thailand

Yukongdi, Vimolwan (2009) The changing face of women managers in Thailand. In: The changing face of women managers in Asia. Working in Asia . Taylor & Francis (Routledge), Oxon, United Kingdom, pp. 199-223. ISBN 0-415-43767-9

Abstract

[Introduction]: Women in Thailand have played an important role in contributing to the growth of the Thai economy. In a recent international study on women's empowerment across fifty-eight countries, Thailand ranked first in terms of economic participation but lagged behind with respect to gender equality (World Economic Forum, 2005). Despite women's high level of economic participation, women are less visible in the upper echelons of organisations. The findings suggest that women lack the opportunities to advance their careers. It has been assumed that intense economic growth over the previous two decades, legislative reforms and the influence of international organisations in promoting gender equality issues would create greater employment opportunities for women and remove the barriers to their career advancement. However, a review of official statistics indicates that women remain under-represented in management positions in both the private and public sectors. The obstacles to women's career advancement include not only discriminatory organisational practices (Col, Meksawan and Sopchokchai, 2001) but also cultural norms and social attitudes towards women (United Nations Development Programme, 2006a), which have not changed in pace with the legislative reforms. In recent years, along with trade unions, international organisations have played a key role in raising public awareness and increasing societal interest in gender equality issues in Thailand (Charoenloet, 2001). Women's advocacy groups, including professional women, have lobbied the government to focus on women workers (UNDP, 2006a). However, the progress towards gender equality has been slow. Women's influence in the decisions to promote gender issues in the workplace has been relatively limited. This is partly because women are under-represented in decision-making committees, the majority of which are dominated by men (Ativanichayapong, 2002; UNDP, 2006a). Furthermore, women are under-represented in management positions in organisations in Thailand (Yukongdi, 2006). At the national level, women need the means to make their 'voices' heard on these gender equality issues. An avenue to achieving this aim is to have a critical mass of women represented in the decisionmaking bodies in the local and national governments. Over the past decade, women managers in the private sector in Thailand have attracted greater attention among researchers, although studies are still relatively scarce. There is also a paucity of research undertaken to understand women's participation in senior positions in the public sector. Little is known regarding the issues and the challenges faced by women aspiring to senior positions in the civil service and, therefore, there is a need for more research to examine women's roles and status not only in the private sector but also in the public sector. The aims of this chapter are to examine the representation of women in management positions in the public and private sectors, their career progress and, more specifically, the cultural and social barriers to career advancement they encounter. The chapter discusses the influence of contextual factors on the progress of women in Thailand. This is followed by an overview of women's participation in the labour force, women's overall status and women's representation in management positions. Furthermore, two case studies of women in senior management positions illustrate how these outstanding women achieved success in their careers, as well as identifying the contributing factors and obstacles to their advancement. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the challenges and future prospects for women managers in Thailand.


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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to paper due to publisher copyright restrictions. Print copy held in USQ Library at call no. 658.0082095 Cha.
Depositing User: Dr Vimolwan Yukongdi
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Management and Marketing
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2010 05:01
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2011 05:38
Uncontrolled Keywords: women; managers; management; Thailand; work
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150305 Human Resources Management
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/6081

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