Gender equality has been one of the heated topics debated over the years. Both men and women admit that they have been treated differently due to their gender and despite the rise of gender movements and actions taken, many still feel the inequality in gender issues.
In Malaysia’s working field, although women are given the chance to take part and compete, the power of decision making often falls in the hands of their male peers. This is not particularly shocking as in 2014, a labour force survey by the Department of statistics showed that women professionals make up 14% of the workforce while only 3.2% are managers. In 2013, it was stated that in every 100 women, 52 were in the labour force.
“In addition to all these statistics, our latest survey showed that only five per cent of engineers in Malaysia are women,” said Srihartini Mohamed Shamsudin, the director of Perak’s Women Development Department during a forum entitled ‘Women’s Issues in the Workplace: US & Malaysia Perspectives’ held recently at Lincoln Centre, UTC Ipoh.
The forum discussed the issue faced by working women in Malaysia and United States where sensitive issues such as sexual harassment was among topics debated during the event.
“As I work in a field dominated mostly by men, I did encounter a male co-worker who was eyeing the way my female friends and I dressed and walked. We decided to file a report as he kept on looking despite the fact that we expressed our discomfort to him,” said Candace A. Moore, the United State Embassy Defense Attache Officer who was also one of the key speakers of the forum.
During the forum, members of the audience were given the chance to share their experiences dealing with problems at work and ask for opinions from the speakers.
“More needs to be done in Malaysia on handling the issue and problems faced by working women. In the US they have groups and NGOs helping out, something that I hope Malaysia will have one day,” said Srihartini before ending the forum.