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Shattering the Bamboo Ceiling: Women Redefining Success in Asian Corporate Culture


It is no secret that women for decades have had strategic disadvantages in the corporate work, such as unequal wages, sexist stereotypes and problems with obtaining maternity leaves. Women in the Asian corporate world face even more problems. Thankfully, these past few years the situation has gradually improved.

In order to understand where these problems stem from and the progress that has been observed, it's crucial to acknowledge the historical context. Many Asian societies have long held traditional beliefs about gender roles, which often reinforced the idea that women should be at home with the children while portraying men as the breadwinners. An example of that is that in Japan, women were forbidden from actively participating in politics until they gained the right to vote in 1945. These deeply ingrained cultural norms sadly created a formidable barrier for women aspiring to leadership positions in the corporate world.

Despite these challenges, Asian women have persisted in their pursuit of success in the corporate world. They have to face on a daily basis the omnipresent glass ceiling that obstructs them from moving further middle management positions. Furthermore, they have to work twice as hard to prove themselves, so they end up having to work longer hours, which consequently means that achieving a healthy work-life balance is almost impossible. Of course, the aforementioned do not include the usual gender bias which makes it really hard to get a promotion and the frustrating lack of fellow women in leadership positions.

Despite these challenges, Asian women are making remarkable strides in redefining success in corporate culture. They try breaking stereotypes as well as the glass ceiling in many fields that were traditionally male-dominated such as finance and technology. Other than that, they are all about female empowerment, supporting and mentoring other women when they can. Last but not least, they have slowly but steadily started creating their own startups where gender equality prevails (until now only 5,7% of startups in Asia Pacific are lead by women according to J.P Morgan).

The Road Ahead While progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve gender equality in Asian corporate culture. Initiatives aimed at closing the gender pay gap, improving work-life balance, and promoting diversity and inclusion continue to be on the rise. In conclusion, women in Asian corporate culture are rewriting the narrative of success. Through determination, resilience, and hard work, they are shattering the bamboo ceiling and opening doors for future generations of aspiring female leaders. Their stories are a testament to the power of change, and as they continue to redefine success, the corporate landscape in Asia will become more diverse, equitable, and dynamic. As we celebrate these achievements, it's important to recognize that the journey toward gender equality is still not over. By acknowledging the challenges, embracing diversity, and advocating for change, we can collectively contribute to a future where success knows no gender boundaries.

By Maria Zoi Michailidou - Corporate Culture Correspondent at YNBC

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