Catherine Hakim's Preference Theory

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According to British Sociologist Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory - Women have their own preferences and make genuine choices over their participation in the labour workforce or family (Hakim 2006). This belief is guided by their preference and choice that directly led to career path & success. This essay will illustrate Hakim’s theory is not applicable to most women in the context of Singapore’s women. Should Hakim’s Preference theory be held, it only apply to a minority of Singapore women who are not under the duress of economical constraint, who have garnered social and financial support and are able to make their preferential work choice independently without influential by external factors. First of all, theoretically, the five historical changes which would leads to increased opportunities & options for women according to Hakim (2006), did not fully take place in Singapore. Firstly, the contraceptive revolution did not happen in Singapore as the Government adopted an anti-natalist approach and also implemented population control policies and programs against fertility decline in late 1960s/early 1970s (Yap 2003). Family policy in Singapore has the “the aim of boosting Singapore’s labour pool and enhancing Singapore’s ‘global competitiveness” (Wong & Yeoh 2003, p. 6). Secondly, Singapore has neither an equal opportunity revolution nor any stated legislation on preferential opportunities on the fairer gender. Opportunities are based on one merits rather than equal opportunity for gender (Lyons 2000; Koh et al. 2006). Nevertheless, Singapore still has a tripartite workgroup to enhance employment choice for women (Singapore Ministry of Manpower 2011c). And a tripartite declaration to ensure equal remuneration for both genders (Industrial Arbitration Court 2006). Thirdly, in Singapore there an expansion in blue-collared occupations took place instead of white collared. It happened in 1961 when Economic Development Board spearheaded the industrialization growth by luring manufacturing into Singapore’s economic transformation. Hence, there was an expansion of jobs in the manufacturing sector. In 2011, the percentage of women (56.5%) in the labour force is lower compared to the men (76.5%) (Singapore Department of Statistics 2011). Women in corporate management careers are still underrepresented. Referring to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower report chart 2, only (30.7%) of the managers are female, in skilled occupations (2000). Furthermore, referring to chart 2, there is only about (22.5%) are women in Engineering, IT & physical science professions, following which referring to chart 4, women held higher representation in low-wage jobs i.e. clerical, Machine operators & assemblers (Singapore Ministry of Manpower, 2000). There might be preferences given over the male gender than the female gender during hiring & workplace. In a manpower surveyed, 41% of the male workers are inclined towards the hiring of male manager (Lee 2009). In another survey conducted by The Conference Board in 2008 on women's leadership and development, it was realised that one third of the Singapore companies are still not emphasising on fair employment practices for women (Lee 2009). The survey “cited breaks from career, gender stereotyping and organisation cultural barriers are obstructing Asia women’s progress in an organisation (Lee 2009). From 2006 to 2010, female gender draws lower median monthly earnings as compared to male counterparts in various industries, inferring from Table b.2 of the yearbook of manpower statistics (Singapore Ministry of Manpower 2011a). Fourth, although there is an increment of jobs availability for secondary earners but not all jobs have friendly family hours. Some may require shift duty at night (Chia and Lin, 2008) when adoscelent kids need parent’s supervision. Finally, Hakim posits women are heterogeneous and make variable choices in their employment. The heterogeneity of women...
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