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Women in senior management in Malaysia: An intersectional analysis

Mokhtar, Ajlaa Shazwani

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Ajlaa Shazwani Mokhtar


Women account for almost 15 million persons in the Malaysian labour force and the labour force participation rate has risen to 68.0 per cent in 2017. Although the participation of female in the labour market has increased, women are still seen to be facing considerable barriers in gaining management positions and outnumbered by men where in the similar year of 2016, practically 79.6 per cent of men are still dominated the organisations. This pioneering study investigated the experiences of women senior managers due to the fact that the literature on Malaysian women senior managers is almost non-existent. This research explores how women from three different ethnic backgrounds; Malay, Chinese and Indian encounter their career challenges and address these problems with their career strategies. The study covers four important themes ranging from the impact of private patriarchy on women’s career choices, the impact of public patriarchy on the careers of senior women, challenges faced and government quotas and career strategies to address by senior women managers in Malaysia. These themes are explored through an intersectional approach between gender and ethnicity, given the influence of Malay privilege to the development of women’s career in Malaysia. The methodology of the study employed was qualitative where 31 in-depth interviews with women in senior management (26 Malays, 3 Chinese and 2 Indian) were conducted. The qualitative data analysis focused on exploring the differences of managerial experiences based on gender and ethnicity in terms of their family and societal backgrounds, career motivations and the need to have a quota for women to succeed in management. On this ground, the implications of the study are identified, and further recommendations made to individuals, organisations and other relevant bodies of ways in which the potential of Malaysian women managers could be improved.


Mokhtar, A. S. Women in senior management in Malaysia: An intersectional analysis. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Dec 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 3, 2020
Keywords Intersectionality, Patriarchy, Women Senior Managers, Critical Mass, Occupational Gender Segregation, Qualitative, Quotas Debate, Malaysia
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