When women opt out of the rat race

SINGAPORE - Women talk of a glass ceiling at the workplace, but some set one for themselves by opting out of the rat race.

According to research by global recruitment agency Alexander Mann Solutions involving 210 female middle managers and 15 human resource leaders in Asia-Pacific (Apac), many cite personal reasons for difficulties in progressing to senior management.

Some 6 per cent just preferred to stay in their current position; 9 per cent lacked confidence to take on the extra responsibility; and 8 per cent stayed passive when it came to taking steps to climb up the corporate ladder.

For some, like Ms Joanne Tan, 42, the needs of the family came first.

She was a senior manager of corporate communications and climbing fast when her daughter's impending PSLE and son's learning difficulties prompted her to review her priorities.

So she quit her job in late 2012, went without income for six months and attended classes to create a new career for herself - one with room for her family commitments.

"At that point, I knew my kids needed me, so I decided to cut back and make them my sole priority," said Ms Tan, who currently works part-time as a training consultant.

Of course, company policies and the "old boys' club" can hinder women, but many hold themselves back by choosing to take on the main caregiver role.

Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said: "The traditional mindset of women being the main pillar of support in the home still stands, and modern women still place that responsibility on themselves."

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