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Filipino women in leadership: Government and industry

Philippine Institute for Development Studies


The Philippines


Influencing Gender Norms Workplace Gender Equality

Gender equality Workplace Gender Equality Gender parity Women in the workforce

Filipino women in leadership: Government and industry

Filipino women in leadership: Government and industry

The Filipino Women in Leadership: Government and Industry report from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies presents current statistics on representation of women in key leadership positions in the Philippine government and industry. It reveals a dearth of female representation in senior or lead positions and discusses some recommendations to address this systemic underrepresentation of Filipino women.


  • The Philippines generally does well in various international metrics of gender equality. In terms of education, Filipino girls and women are more likely to obtain a high school diploma, more likely to enter college, and more likely to graduate than their boys and male counterpart.
  • In the workforce, while still accounting for a lower proportion of the total workforce, jobs that tend to have higher paying positions like supervision/management, professionals, service, and sales are more likely to be done by women than men.
  • In terms of salaries, the gender pay gap on a per-hour basis is also small in the country, even smaller than that of many advanced economies.
  • Women holding leadership positions is also not unusual in the Philippines. Since the end of the Marcos dictatorship, for instance, Filipinos have already installed two female presidents and two female vice presidents.
  • However, these national aggregates hide pictures of persistent gender gaps across specific industries and occupations. Filipino women remain sorely underrepresented in the highest positions in both the government and industry, where most important decisions are made and directions are set.
  • In the government, these positions include elective and appointive positions across the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. In the industry, they include chief-level positions, board memberships, and director positions.
  • This pursuit of greater female representation in the realms of governance and business is critical to sustain any developments in gender equality in the Philippines. After all, women should have a voice in the decision-making process for policies that concern their welfare, such as family leave policies and equity in recruitment and promotion, among others.
  • In the Philippine Senate, the number of female senators has been from three to six out of the 24 since 2001. These past two Senates have had the highest proportion of female representation, although women still only occupy 25 percent of the upper chamber. Moreover, since the 12th Congress in 2001, only one female has ever served in a leadership position within the Senate, namely, Loren Legarda as the majority leader of the 12th Meanwhile, no female has ever assumed the rank of Senate President or House Speaker.
  • The overall picture is particularly alarming in the local elective offices, such as in the positions of governor, mayor, and lower elected positions. In 2013, only 11 percent of elected local officials were female, a sharp decline from 20 percent in 2010, 18 percent in 2007, and 17 percent in 2004. At the barangay level, specifically, women only occupied 19 percent and 27 percent of all barangay captain and councilperson posts, respectively.


  • Gender equality in the Philippine context
  • Female representation in the Philippine government
  • Female representation in leadership positions in industry
  • Recommendations
    • Improving female representation in governance
    • Improving female representation in industry
  • References
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