Women, Leadership, and Asian Economic Performance


Soyoung Han and Marcus Noland

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 142


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: January 2020
Binding: paper
Pages: 4
Free Download: PDF


In an era of slowing economic growth, Asian countries face an imperative to boost productivity. One possible source of economic revitalization would be to make better use of women in the labor force. Although female representation in corporate leadership has been rising gradually over time, as of 2017, women comprised only 16 percent of executive officers and 11 percent of board members in publicly listed firms in Asia. Research shows that Asian firms with female executive officers and board members perform better in terms of net profit margin and return on assets than firms that lack females in leadership positions. Public policy can improve this gender gap. For one thing, countries that produce large numbers of female college graduates in fields such as law, business, or economics tend to generate more female corporate executives.

Refer to the Appendix for additional data and a detailed exposition of data collection and cleaning.