The changing face of women managers in Thailand

Edited book (chapter)


Yukongdi, Vimolwan. 2009. "The changing face of women managers in Thailand." Rowley, Chris and Yukongdi, Vimolwan (ed.) The changing face of women managers in Asia. Oxon, United Kingdom. Routledge. pp. 199-223
Chapter Title

The changing face of women managers in Thailand

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID3137
3415
Book TitleThe changing face of women managers in Asia
Authors
AuthorYukongdi, Vimolwan
EditorsRowley, Chris and Yukongdi, Vimolwan
Page Range199-223
SeriesWorking in Asia
Number of Pages25
Year2009
PublisherRoutledge
Taylor & Francis
Place of PublicationOxon, United Kingdom
ISBN0415437679
Web Address (URL)http://www.routledgebusiness.com/books/The-Changing-Face-of-Women-Managers-in-Asia-isbn9780415437677
Abstract

[Introduction]: Women in Thailand have played an important role in contributing to the growth of the Thai economy. In a recent international study on women's empowerment across fifty-eight countries, Thailand ranked first in terms of economic participation but lagged behind with
respect to gender equality (World Economic Forum, 2005). Despite women's high level of economic participation, women are less visible in the upper echelons of organisations. The findings suggest that women lack the opportunities to advance their careers. It has
been assumed that intense economic growth over the previous two decades, legislative reforms and the influence of international organisations in promoting gender equality issues would create greater
employment opportunities for women and remove the barriers to their career advancement. However, a review of official statistics indicates that women remain under-represented in management positions in both the private and public sectors. The obstacles to women's career advancement include not only discriminatory organisational practices
(Col, Meksawan and Sopchokchai, 2001) but also cultural norms and social attitudes towards women (United Nations Development Programme, 2006a), which have not changed in pace with the legislative reforms.

In recent years, along with trade unions, international organisations have played a key role in raising public awareness and increasing societal interest in gender equality issues in Thailand (Charoenloet, 2001). Women's advocacy groups, including professional women,
have lobbied the government to focus on women workers (UNDP, 2006a). However, the progress towards gender equality has been slow. Women's influence in the decisions to promote gender issues in the workplace has been relatively limited. This is partly because
women are under-represented in decision-making committees, the majority of which are dominated by men (Ativanichayapong, 2002; UNDP, 2006a). Furthermore, women are under-represented in management positions in organisations in Thailand (Yukongdi, 2006).

At the national level, women need the means to make their 'voices' heard on these gender equality issues. An avenue to achieving this aim is to have a critical mass of women represented in the decisionmaking bodies in the local and national governments. Over the past decade, women managers in the private sector in Thailand have
attracted greater attention among researchers, although studies are still relatively scarce. There is also a paucity of research undertaken to understand women's participation in senior positions in the public
sector. Little is known regarding the issues and the challenges faced by women aspiring to senior positions in the civil service and, therefore, there is a need for more research to examine women's roles and status not only in the private sector but also in the public sector.

The aims of this chapter are to examine the representation of women in management positions in the public and private sectors, their career progress and, more specifically, the cultural and social barriers to career advancement they encounter. The chapter discusses the influence of contextual factors on the progress of women in Thailand.
This is followed by an overview of women's participation in the labour force, women's overall status and women's representation in management positions. Furthermore, two case studies of women in senior management positions illustrate how these outstanding women achieved success in their careers, as well as identifying the contributing
factors and obstacles to their advancement. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the challenges and future prospects for women managers in Thailand.

Keywordswomen; managers; management; Thailand; work
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350709. Organisation and management theory
350503. Human resources management
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