Less female participation in upper middle professional positions

The differences in work nature between men and women can be seen in some occupations as presented in Table 1. Of 713,600 employed persons in Penang for 2010, approximately 40% of the workforce were females. The majority of them can be found in clerical positions, where they make up almost 71% of the total employed persons in this area. In contrast, female composition was relatively insignificant in skilled agricultural & fisheries (7.3%) and craft & related trades (15.3%).

Another interesting point to note is that there were more males holding the positions of legislators, senior officers & managers (68.7%) and technicians & associate professionals (62.4%), suggesting that women are less involved in upper-middle decision-making positions.



More female graduates (except at the top)
With the exception of Doctors of Philosophy (PhDs), the number of female graduates surpasses their male counterparts in all fields and levels of study. Almost 63% female graduates were produced in 2010 in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Note that the composition of female graduates is very significant in courses such as Education (78.6%); Science, Mathematics & Computers (65.3%); Health & Welfare (65.3%); Social Sciences, Business & Law (64.9%); and Arts & Humanities (63.8%). But it should also be noted that the share of female graduates declined substantially as the level of qualifications rises, dropping from 64.8% in Bachelors Degrees to 58.5% in Masters Degrees, and then to only 31.4% for PhD holders.



Fewer women voices in state legislation

The proportion of women representatives in the state legislative assembly varies amongst the states (Table 3). A total of 576 seats were made available in the state legislative assemblies. Of these, only 8.2% were represented by women in 2008, an increase of seven seats from the previous period. Perak recorded the biggest increase in 2008, with nearly 14% of total assembly seats occupied by women, an increase of five seats from 2004. This was followed by Selangor (14.3%) with a one-third increase in its female seats. But while women voices represented in the Penang state Legislative Assembly shrunk to only three seats in 2008, Perlis and Terengganu saw no elected women representatives. It is essential to have greater representative of women in the legislative assembly so that the needs of women and issues pertaining to gender equality can be better addressed at the sub-national level.

High rate of female participation in local authorities

A total of 3,409 local councils members were elected in the local governments in 2010 (Table 4). Of these, nearly 12% or 400 seats were taken up by women. Interestingly, Perak again recorded the highest number of female council members in Malaysia (14.8%). This was followed by Sabah (13.8%), Johor (11%), Negeri Sembilan (10.5%) and Kelantan (10.3%). But while states like Malacca, Penang and Kedah contributed only 1.5%, 5.2% and 2.9% of the total council members respectively, female members make up a significant portion of their numbers (18%, 15.8% and 11.1% respectively). This suggests that women in the local community in these states are more involved in their states’ decision-making process with regards to local development.



Crimes against women appearing to level

Domestic violence accounted for the highest number of reported cases amongst the violent crimes against women from 2001 - 2010 (Figure 1). This trend appears to have improved slightly in recent years, 2007 excepted. Reported rape cases, on the other hand, showed a semi-exponential growth in Penang from 2005-2009, though a drop was registered in 2010. Such cases at the national level were reportedly committed by the victims’ acquaintances or partners. All these figures, however, may not reflect the real situation as they do not include unreported cases.

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