In April, Forbes magazine published an article entitled, What do Countries with the Best Coronavirus Responses have in Common?
The answer was female leaders: the article listed President Tsai of Taiwan, Merkel of Germany, Arden of New Zealand, along with Iceland, Finland and Denmark. According to the article, their curiosity, decisiveness, technological aptitude, and empathy successfully slowed down the initial spread of the virus. Recently, Bloomberg also proclaimed that under the leadership of Tsai, Taiwan has continued expanding its voice in the world. Its soft power, which arises from advocacy of an inclusive and tolerant political culture, has paid dividends in international exposure.
Furthermore, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan is 43% female, not only the highest in Asia, but also among the top in the world. Digital Minister Audrey Tang is a key figure in Taiwan’s pandemic prevention success, and Taiwan’s youngest and first transgender cabinet member, representing its preeminence in gender equality. To be sure, men and women have inherent differences, which can be seen from neurological differences in language, spatial memory, and motor skills. Only through respect, tolerance, and mutual understanding of shortcomings can competition turn into cooperation. Tsai has repeatedly emphasized that “learning, understanding, and sharing will give us the opportunity to move forward together.”
Indeed, particularly in a high-pressure sector like finance, women face restrictions including traditional social expectations and the so-called glass ceiling – obstacles that may not be set in stone but clearly exist and restrict certain groups, such as women, from reaching the top positions. But we’ve also seen that despite being required to simultaneously play the roles of mother, daughters, and wives, women can also be tireless employees and leaders, good at communication and compromise, and resilient and considerate.
Taiwan’s finance industry still lags in gender empowerment. Although over half of employees in Taiwanese banks are female, inequality still exists in the highest ranks. According to a statistical report at the end of 2019, females make up only 17.18%, or less than 1/5 of senior executives. Thanks to President Tsai’s effort in recent years, however, and following moves in foreign banks such as Citibank’s appointment of Jane Frasier as its new CEO, we’ll see more female leaders in finance. Female leaders have different characteristics from men, and should not be considered inferior. The outstanding Taiwanese women who have worked hard and stood out have given full play to communications skills and detail orientation, allowing everyone on their teams to shine, and maintained positive and productive energy. I hope that in the future, women will no longer be restricted by their gender and be able to perform to their fullest.