Pandemic widens gender gap in Philippine e-commerce companies: study

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo

Posted at Mar 09 2021 05:44 PM

MANILA - While the e-commerce industry was one of the few businesses that thrived during the worldwide crisis, gender parity in Philippine-based online shopping companies also took a significant dip, according to a study by an e-commerce aggregator. 

The iPrice Group said it conducted market-specific research on the gender diversity of the top-level management roles (C-Level, Senior Vice President, Vice President, and Head) among the biggest e-commerce players in the country and found that the number of women holding the positions plunged by 16 percent. 

In 2018, data gathered by the Malaysia-based iPrice revealed Filipino women dominated the top leadership roles of the rapidly growing industry.

From Filipinas possessing 55 percent of the high-ranking job titles, however, the figure fell to just 39 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among the seven countries in Asia surveyed by the e-commerce aggregator, the Philippines slipped two notches from 2018 and only ranked as the fourth country with the most women in power. The nation trailed behind Hong Kong (55 percent), Vietnam (46 percent), and Thailand (45 percent). 

Citing a report from the US-based National Public Radio, iPrice explained society’s expectation for women to prioritize motherhood over their careers was one of the possible reasons the number of women in the workforce dwindled during the pandemic.

“According to NPR, there are much more women leaving the workforce than men during the pandemic. There may still be a distinction of gender roles within the household due to the many years of women’s unconscious bias to be family-oriented. That said, Filipinas may be taking care of their children, who are coerced to be educated at home, ” iPrice reasoned.

“This hypothesis makes the most sense as the top three countries, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand, didn’t undergo stringent lockdowns as the other listed Asian countries,” the firm added. 

Similarly, UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and empowerment concurred women were more susceptible to “COVID-19–related economic effects due to the existing gender inequalities disproportionately carried by women.” 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said the worldwide crisis “dramatically increased the poverty rate for women and widened the gap between men and women who live in poverty.” 

A study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimated the livelihoods of women were 1.8 times more likely to be hit by the pandemic compared to men. According to the firm, albeit women only made up 39 percent of global employment, they accounted for 54 percent of the overall job losses. 

According to the analysis commissioned by UN Women and UNDP estimated around 435 million women and girls, including 47 million forced into poverty due to the onslaught of the new coronavirus, will be living on less than USD 1.90 a day in 2021. 

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