EnterAsia Information Services

Expatriate Business Women In Asia


Business in Asia remains a man’s world with women having a hard time breaking the barriers.   As a single female expatriate, you are alone when embracing the new culture and managing culture shock.  Isolation is cited as a major problem. However, gender has become much less of a barrier to success in management in Asia, and there are a number of successful women as entrepreneurs and in powerful political positions.


The following guidelines may be helpful:


• Find and join one of the above-mentioned groups as soon as possible.


• You are expected to adopt the norms and respect the local traditions for women in your professional and private life.


• You will not command respect automatically but gain respect by fitting in.


• There are a number of regional and local networks for businesswomen in Southeast Asia, some created by female expatriates.


• A single female sends out mixed signals to the men in Southeast Asia. You may be a potential social problem.


• Look for support from male and other female expatriate colleagues, but do not complain.


• Local male colleagues will treat you differently than their local female colleagues.


• Authorities in Southeast Asia are respected and dealt with in a very formal way. Use your female qualities rather than those shown by many task-driven Western male expatriates.


• Local colleagues like you to show interest and learn new things from them. Listen, rather than lecture.


• Learn the local language and use your new skills as often as possible.


• Show high competence in whatever you do.


• Be inclusive rather than directive.


• Do not act overly competitive.


• Avoid conflicts and emphasize harmony.


• Insist on adequate support from headquarters for a successful performance.


To find out more about job opportunities in Singapore, click here.



Written by: Jacqueline Reischel (ex Singapore Expat)