Singapore's Female Professionals Choose Work-Life Balance Over Wealth

More than half of the female professionals in Singapore (58.3 percent) define professional success as having the right balance between work and personal life, according to the "What Women Want @ Work study" released by LinkedIn.


Women in Singapore feel confident about their careers and upbeat about their ability to have fulfilling work and family lives. Of the 400 respondents in Singapore, 67.3 per cent consider their careers ‘successful’, while two-thirds of them (67.5 percent) believe that they can ‘have it all: a fulfilling career, relationships and children’. On the issue of how children will affect career ambitions, however, women have differing views. The study found that two out of three (63.5 percent) of those currently without children, plan to slow down their careers when they have a child, while the remaining feel they will not.


Success – Then and Now

The survey found that the meaning of professional success has changed dramatically over the past decade. While today more than half (58.3 percent) of the female professionals surveyed define success as having the right balance between work and personal life, only 33.2 percent of them prioritised this five to ten years ago.


Over the same period, the importance placed on salary when defining professional accomplishments decreased from 64.7 percent in the past, to 57.8 percent currently. Women are also more prepared to explore alternative career paths now, with ‘doing what I was trained for’ seeing a drop from 25.7 percent to 18.3 percent.


The Flexible Factor
Looking at how women think they can achieve professional success, more than two-thirds (68.3 percent) of working women want greater flexibility within the workplace. A flexible work environment was also selected as the most important factor in determining the ‘success of the next generation of professional women’ by 81.3 percent of respondents, significantly outweighing leadership opportunities (65.0 percent), supportive government legislation for working parents (62.5 percent), and greater representation of women at senior levels (60.8 percent).


“Employers in Singapore can gain significantly from learning about what women want, given that a considerable percentage of the workforce here is made up of females, with many also holding leadership positions. It is quite clear that to women, attractive pay and positions of power hold less significance. Instead, workplace success is about having an interesting and fulfilling job and being able to achieve the right balance between work and personal life,” said Feon Ang, Director of Talent Solutions for Southeast Asia and Korea at LinkedIn.


Career Challenges
However, women still face significant career barriers in the workplace. More than half (54.3 percent) identified the absence of a clear career path as a major challenge. In addition, inequality in pay (46.5 percent), the lack of a mentor or role model (42.8 percent), and the challenges of juggling family life with work (40.3 percent) were perceived to be major inhibitors of professional success.


Worldwide, issues such as the perception of the ‘glass ceiling’ (22.6 percent) and sexism in the workplace (18.9 percent) were not perceived as widespread concerns for female professionals globally. A few countries bucked this trend however; 44.8 percent of respondents in Germany and 38.8 per cent in Spain considered the ‘glass ceiling’ to be a major career challenge, while in India more than one in three (34.8 percent) women claim to have experienced sexism in the workplace.


Only a small group of professional women feel their appearance plays a major part in their careers today, with 71.5 percent deeming it irrelevant or having no major impact on their career. That said, a significant minority of women in several countries – including Singapore (20.0 percent), Germany (26.3 percent) and the US (21.0 percent) – still think that appearance has had a major impact on their careers. In fact, 15.5 percent of Singaporean respondents had even used it to their advantage.