Senior vice president-head of consumer mobile marketing of Globe Telecom Issa Cabreira (Communication), Johnson & Johnson country director Tina Sabarre (Retail), CNN Philippines president Armie Jarin-Bennett (Mass Media), CMO of Manulife Phil. Melissa Henson, managing director of JWT Philippines Golda Roldan, Art Fair Philippines cofounder Trickie Lopa, Rep. Pia Cayetano, Olympian Hidilyn Diaz (Sports) and JWT Philippines executive strategic planning director Pam Pacete-Garcia during the celebration of International Women’s Day in Taguig —RICHARD A. REYES
58 percent of Filipino women delay marriage and kids for career
Most Filipino women believe there has never been a better time to be a woman and that femininity is strength, according to research made by global marketing communications brand J. Walter Thompson (JWT).
That they are among the least likely to experience sexism in the workplace compared to their sisters in the Asia-Pacific region reflects this world view.
Filipino women also wish to mentor their juniors—whether in the family, office or other social circles—in the self-taught independence and expression they have honed as part of growth. One reason for this is that Filipino women apparently feel it is dangerous to leave young girls looking for role models in media, since female celebrities are “too superficial.”
JWT revealed the results of its study called “Filipina Next” in time for the celebration of International Women’s Day last March 8. The quantitative and qualitative research covered Filipino women across socioeconomic levels, from 18 to 70 years old.
“Filipina Next” is an offshoot of the group’s more exhaustive poll in 2016 called “Female Tribes” that involved 4,300 participants from the United States, China, United Kingdom, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, Australia and South Africa. In that study, women, ages 18 to 70, were asked about money, career, religion, sex and other “relevant topics.”
Among the highlights that JWT Philippines managing director Golda Roldan and executive strategic planning director Pamela Pacete-Garcia shared from “Filipina Next” are:
98 percent of Filipino women believe in establishing “strong and substantial women in television and film,” but 76 percent find female celebs “too superficial.”
Still, 15 percent credit a female role model in media for inspiring them to leave an abusive relationship.
94 percent want women in general to “step up and serve as mentors to young girls.”
80 percent consider themselves “the main household purchaser,” with 73 percent saying they make majority of financial decisions at home.
72 percent claim they “don’t need anyone but themselves to achieve their goals.”
Among those who turned to role models, 41 percent “have taken risks in life that they otherwise would not have taken;” 40 percent “became more ambitious,” while 33 percent were encouraged to go to school or pursue further education.
63 percent consider sexual fulfillment important as a lifelong concept, with 70 percent agreeing that sexual fulfillment is not just for the young; 50 percent expect to remain sexually active even in their advanced years.
58 percent would delay getting married and/or having children to pursue their chosen career.
More than career advancement and the acquisition of material wealth, 47 percent measure success as “achieving a higher level of religious and spiritual awareness.”
While JWT studies showed Filipino women as the least likely to experience sexism at work, guest panelists in the presentation agreed that mentoring young women would help them overcome challenges, especially in the workplace.
Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano said this means it becomes more crucial now to confront policy issues such as maternity leave, age discrimination and reproductive health because “we still live in a time when women are very much discriminated against.”
In the case of Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, she recalled facing opposition from family members, particularly her mother, Emelita, after she decided to concentrate on weightlifting—a sport normally associated with “macho” men.
Other panelists attributed their success to strong women in the family who raised them, and mentors at work who encouraged them to find their place.
Trickie Lopa of Art Fair Philippines had grandmothers who were both luminaries in the faculty of University of Santo Tomas, and a mother who also worked.
“I never experienced women being Maria Clara (the weak female character in Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere”). These days I work with women… I’m surrounded so it’s never been an issue,” Lopa said.
Armie Jarin-Bennett of CNN Philippines recalled asking too many questions (“Tanong ako nang tanong”) at work “so people had the tendency to take me under their wing.”
Melissa Henson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines, once had a “Turkish lady” who taught her the ropes during a stint abroad.
“In the US, I was the quiet Filipina who didn’t speak. Kasi nakakahiya, baka mali ang sasabihin ko, mas matalino sila sa akin,” she said.
Henson said her boss encouraged her to speak up “or they’ll think you don’t know. If I turn out wrong, so what? Do better next time. I grew significantly, professionally under her watch.”
Johnson & Johnson country director Tina Sabarre noted that her women role models “did not act like men,” which made her realize “I can really be a woman, be strong in my femininity, and not work as if I am a man, and succeed.”
Globe Telecom senior vice president and head of consumer mobile marketing Issa Cabreira grew up watching a grandmother, who was widowed at 49, raise seven children, and a mother who raised four kids after separating from her husband.
“Having two very strong role models made me who I am today. If I am asked what drives me, it’s always those two amazing women—professionals who were doing the (traditional) jobs of men because they were running businesses,” Cabreira said.
“I did not follow them as entrepreneurs, but they drove me to be at least half as successful on my own,” she added.