Hong Kong women are celebrated for their style, glamour and a certain je ne sais quoi that is commonly perceived to result from the power of their purse. But even though women are freer, more educated, and enjoy more legal protection than they did just 20 years ago, “success” is still a long shot.

Young women fill in application forms at job fair (The Standard)

In 1997, Hong Kong signed the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which calls for 50 percent female representation in leadership positions in governments, political parties, trade unions and other groups. Despite this, startling gender inequalities are woven into Hong Kong’s socio-economic fabric – creating a huge barrier to female success.

Various research points to a clear gender gap vis-a-vis leadership positions, especially political leadership.

“People generally think there is equality,” says former legislator Mandy Tam Heung-man. “But, in fact, the inequality is subtle, because now women have higher educations, and there are more female professionals. Even in the government’s senior posts, there are more women, but if you look closely at the government’s structure, only two to three females are officials.”

In corporate life, with lower salaries and fewer promotion opportunities than men, women do not share an equal voice in decision-making – a huge cause for concern in a society where women comprise 54 percent of university graduates, and 47 percent of the workforce.

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