Women in Singapore earned six percent less than their male peers in 2018, according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
After taking into account factors such as industry, occupation, age, and education, Singapore’s adjusted gender pay gap (GPG) is found at 6.0% which is significantly lower than the unadjusted GPG of 16.3%. This unadjusted figure, which is often used in international comparisons by the likes of the OECD, inched up by 0.3 percentage points from 2002.
The 16.3 percent pay gap is largely driven by the tendency for men and women to work in different occupations, the study said, as women tend to be in lower-paying jobs compared to men, who continue to be over-represented in higher-paying occupations.
Occupational segregation is a key contributor to the unadjusted gender pay gap, says the study. The employment rate among women rose strongly over the past decade, and more women are now in PMET occupations. However, men continue to be over-represented in higher-paying occupations and women tend to be in lower-paying ones. This is “occupational segregation” and a key contributor to unadjusted GPG.
Occupational segregation tends to occur due to inherent gender differences. For example, men and women generally have different personality traits and skills, psychological attributes, and choices of field of study. As the median wages in male-dominated occupations have been growing faster than those in female-dominated occupations, occupational segregation’s significance in the unadjusted GPG has also grown over time.
Women still earn less than men after adjustment. This could be due to factors that the model is unable to measure, such as the length of work experience and job preferences that impact wages. Due to social norms regarding gender roles within families, women typically play the primary role in caregiving such as caring for children and the elderly. This may have reduced their time and experience at work, leading to lags in career progression and hence earnings. The Government’s support for more shared care-giving responsibilities between men and women – such as through shared parental leave, and promotion of family-friendly workplace practices (e.g. Tripartite Standards on FWAs and Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs) – aims to reduce the effects of such social norms, according to the study.