They say there are three phases of a woman’s career. The first is ambition and it starts when she graduates from college or university as a hopeful, bright-eyed young lady eager to take on the world. Years and years of education has prepared her for the corporate world (or so she believes) and she’s been told that she can achieve anything if she puts her heart in it.
MEJAR PATRICIA YAPP SYAU YIN
Operational and Tactical Lead Pilot with the No 17/19 “Smokey Bandits” Squadron (Malaysia’s first and only female MiG fighter pilot)
Women in this age bracket achieve plenty as they are not tied down to marriage, kids or caring for their aging parents, well not yet anyway. When you’re young, you’re free to pursue any career without consequences.
You can choose a job offshore or in a foreign country or dedicate long hours to work in hopes to progress up the corporate ladder as quickly as you can. Usually at this stage, both men and women are equals as they prove themselves at the workplace. The problem is, transiting into phase 2 can be shocking and unexpected.
DATUK NANCY YEOH (left)
Managing Director of RAPR Mileage Communications & President and CEO of STYLO
Phase Two occurs when women enter their 30s where a majority of women get married and start to have families of their own. In between juggling work and family, women find themselves competing against the men for promotions and talent identification because companies usually sit up and notice employees in their 30s who are performing well to groom them for higher positions in the company. Unfortunately most policies were designed around male career patterns and may sometimes discriminate women.
Companies demand more of their staff at this age knowing that they are well experienced which is why ambitious women then to delay marriage or having children. Capable women in this age bracket who have children end up losing out because they are forced to focus on the upbringing on their children at the same time.
Also, career promotions are advantageous to males who spend more time with their bosses after work having drinks, playing golf and during lunch breaks, all of which are impossible for women to have access to particularly if they are married and not to mention maternity leaves.
Sigh with us will you.
Then we enter Phase 3, our 40s. By now, your children should be in their teens (assuming you had kids in your late 20s) and now you’re ready to take on your careers again with blazing guns but is your company ready for you or did it move on without you?
TAN SRI DR ZETI AKHTAR AZIZ
First woman governor of Bank Negara
We believe that with proper encouragement and direction, companies can benefit the most from female employees in their prime because of their experiences, authority and credibility to put ideas into implementation. Women who find themselves stuck in their position will either leave for other companies or start their own businesses.
There are plenty of high heeled warriors out there who strive for equality in the workforce and many inspiring Malaysian women who have carved a name for themselves that we can look up to. It may be difficult to change reality and the way women are positioned in the corporate sector so it’s important that we fight for change not through verbal means but with our strengths and capabilities.