Academy of Strategic Management Journal (Print ISSN: 1544-1458; Online ISSN: 1939-6104)


Women in Management at the Port Sector of Maritime Industry in Malaysia - Is there a Gender Imbalance?

Author(s): Sharifah Halimah Syed Ahmad, Geetha Subramaniam, Shahrin Nasir

The objective of this paper is to present an insight on the women at management level in the port sector of the maritime industry of Malaysia. While women in Malaysia form 54.7 percent out of 15 million total labour forces in 2017, the overall percentage of women in the top management level is only 15.4 percent in third quarter 2018 of top 100 Public Listed companies. These women at the top management level are mainly in the accounting and legal professions. Their involvement in the logistics and transport service sector are relatively small. The industry carries over 90 percent of the world goods need to access the entire talent pool, regardless of gender. Malaysia by virtue of its extended jurisdiction of the Economic Exclusive Zone has a maritime area which is larger than its land mass. It is the 17th largest trading nation in the world. Hence this paper discusses on whether there is gender imbalance in the sector and the challenges faced by women in the management of the port sector of the maritime industry in Malaysia. Based on the returned structured questionnaires, 57 percent male and 43 percent female of the major port operators illustrate that women represent 14.5 percent in the management level. In terms of perception, both male and female management treat female staff equally (75 percent) and agree that gender diversity should exist (75 percent). However, interestingly, management still have preference for men for port management (49 percent). We suggest reasons for the need to rise and argue that port organizations can capture the symbols of progressive social change and modernity by appointment of women in key positions at the ports. Based on measures in financial performance, Catalyst (2011) study, with 3 or more women in the decision-making level, companies significantly outperformed in return on sales (ROS), return on invested capital (ROIC) and return on equity (ROE).

The future in the logistics profession is crucial for a country’s economic growth; and that professionals in the supply chain and logistics serve as the links connecting businesses, people and countries across the globe. Henceforth, the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) places strong emphasis on anchoring growth on people to further aggressively develop Malaysia towards a high-income nation.

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