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Malaysia and its Transition Process Towards More Gender Equality at the Labor Market – Results from a Qualitative Study

June 11, 2020

DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

  • The promotion of labor market opportunities for women in Malaysia has been the focus of several quantitative studies. Although these quantitative studies have emphasized that women face hurdles to accessing the labor market, the underlying constraints have remained largely unexplored. Against this backdrop, this qualitative study aims to identify and analyze the major relevant constraints. It relies on focus group discussions with different groups of women aged 16 to 50 as well as with employers and human resource managers of multi-national corporations. The study finds that the most relevant constraint for women’s labor market access is the solidification of social inequality due to an absence of support structures and empowerment programs. In addition, it documents that disparities between rural and urban living are an important driver of constraint to women’s labor access and highlights that two groups of women, namely women living in public low-cost housings and single mothers, face particularly significant hurdles in accessing the labor market. Instead, they are frequently stuck in casual work or as operators of microbusinesses. Based on these empirical results, the study develops policy recommendations to stimulate a discussion on gender equality at the labor market in Malaysia.

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  • Nina Weimann-Sandig is a professor for sociology and empirical social research at the University for Applied Sciences for Social Work, Education and Nursing in Dresden. Her research interests are social inequality, especially gender inequality and the professionalization of Social Work and Education. Before, she has been responsible for the development of institutional childcare and the reconciliation of work and family at the German Youth Institute in Munich and has worked as a visiting lecturer at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) and a senior researcher at the Institute of Labour Market Research in Nuremberg (Germany). She has been working as a World Bank consultant for four years now and tries to help developing research projects dealing with the topics of labor market access and gender inequality as well as the development of institutional childcare systems. She is especially experienced in qualitative social research. In her PhD thesis she developed new strategies of focus group discussions, since 2018 she puts emphasis on biographic research and new research methods such as narrative landscapes. In Germany she is a well-known author in the field of qualitative research, her latest book “Forschungsfeld Kita” will be published in summer 2020. Her knowledge was used to conduct qualitative World Bank studies in Mongolia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Nina has been awarded a fellowship of “Lehre(n)” – a German program for outstanding university professors. She also is vice chairwoman of the scientific board of the Saxonian Centre for Didactics (Germany) and a member of the German Sociological Association.


  • WHEN: Thursday, June 11, 2020; 2:30 -3:30PM
  • WHERE: Watch Seminar