Thailand is World's No. 1 for business women
Thai women are the business leaders of the world. This startling fact helps define the enigma posed by different perceptions of Thai women in popular culture.
Everyone is familiar with the legendary beauty of Thai women and the Thai Bride phenomenon is well known in western countries. However the truth is far more complex.
A recent survey shows that nearly three quarters of internet users in Thailand are women. The international research found that the average Thai women used the internet for about 20 hours each week and between the hours of 8pm and midnight. It also emerged that the use of the internet in Thailand was still limited to about 20% of the population concentrated in Bangkok with news and e-learning being some of the key internet activities. This comes as no surprise to familiar with the role women in Thailand play as natural leaders, a role they fulfill while still maintaining their unique identity, femininity and charm.
A popular image of Thai women, whether justified or not, is that of the Thai bride or the sex industry in Thailand. Sex tourism reports from Pattaya or portrayals of Thai women as victims of trafficking or abuse are often seen in western media. Both of these perceptions are somewhat based on reality but obscure the bigger picture. Thai women should be recognized for their leadership skills particularly in business. Thailand is ranked No.1 in the world for women's participation in commerce. A whopping 56% of business people in Thailand are women, a proportion far ahead of the developed world. To illustrate the difference s in culture only 1-5% of business people in Arab countries are women.
A recent Grant Thornton study found that Thai women accounted for 34 % of senior management positions in leading companies in Thailand. Compare this to 24-26% for the UK and the US where the feminist movement has been active and flourishing for many decades. You might suppose this has something to do with some government initiative or legislation inspired by feminist ideals but you'd be wrong. The reason for it is Thai culture and tradition.
And it turns out, it is not a particularly new development at all. In 1947, after the Second World War, it was found by the Thai authorities that there were three times as many Thai women as men registered as business owners in Thailand.
The underlying reason for this remarkable situation is the unique nature of Thailand's history and culture. The country, Siam, as it was formerly known, has never been colonized and has resisted both western Christian colonists and Islamist influences over hundreds of years. A Chinese traveler from the middle ages observed that 'it is the Siamese custom that all affairs are managed by their wives.' In 1727 a British traveler wrote: 'the women of Siam are the only merchants in buying goods, some of them trade very considerably.' Later, around the turn of the 20th century, an American visitor to Chiang Mai also observed that all business there seemed to be managed by Thai women.
While many UN bodies and international observers have called for Thailand to improve its social infrastructure, it has emerged that the traditional Thai approach of extended families is one of the key drivers behind the success of Thai women in the corporate world. Studies in the UK and the US have concluded that the prohibitively high cost of childcare is one of the key reasons for the lack of progress of women in the higher levels of corporate management.
In Thailand, the tradition of grandparents taking care of children and seniors offering support and mentoring is seen as one of the key reasons for the success of Thai women. In a recent magazine interview in Thailand, the chief executive of one of the world's leading companies attributed her success partly to support provided by her parents. Her father had pointed her in the direction of IT, a male preserve even in developed countries and her mother has provided her with the moral support throughout her life and career, she stated. She is today the CEO of the one of the world's leading companies in Thailand employing over two hundred people and one of only 8 CEOs out of 233 worldwide for the company who are women. It doesn't stop there. Thai women are in leading executive positions throughout Thailand's corporate world not only in sales and marketing, which is a traditional interest area for many Thai women but in banking and even the manufacturing.
The success of Thai women in the corporate word has been attributed to their determination to succeed and their attention to detail.
You might think that this success is not linked to the vast majority of Thai women who are not business people or business leaders in the corporate world. You might also consider that this is not linked to the involvement of Thai women in prostitution or the Thai bride phenomenon. Again, you may be surprised.
Thai women, often marriage partners of foreign men, have been in the vanguard of immigration to foreign countries where they have become highly respected for their hard work and determination. Other Thai women, in search of work and economic opportunity, have suffered discrimination and in some cases ruthless exploitation. These Thai women are renowned for their loyalty to Thailand and their efforts to support their extended family. One heartbreaking story of a Thai woman in Sydney who was forced to work as a sex slave illustrates the point. In evidence convicting her traffickers it emerged that she had sent home $32,667 to her family in Thailand in a relatively short period.
The Danish film 'Love on Delivery', viewed by over 1 million TV viewers in Denmark, tells the story of Sommai, a former Thai sex worker in Pattaya who turned her chance meeting with a Danish man and subsequent marriage into a thriving community in Denmark where nearly 600 Thai brides are today married to Danish men. This also illustrates the point. The Danish producer observed that Thai women were people who did not see themselves as victims but 'took control of their lives'.
In 2008, Pattaya Tangkuampien also showed the same resolve in South Africa. This Thai woman was finally admitted as an attorney to practice law in South Africa after fighting an 18 month battle to be allowed permanent residency status having worked and studied for seven years to become a lawyer. Similarly, in the USA and Australia, Thai women, many with foreign partners, are now emerging with leadership roles in business and community affairs.
Yet, despite this, Thai women are still known for their attachment to Thai culture and values insisting on a soft and polite approach and often times playing a supporting role to their relationship partners. A popular Thai legend states that that: 'marriage is like an elephant - the husband is the front leg that chooses the direction, the wife the back legs providing the power!' This, of course, may well be changing with the younger generation of Thai women as western culture increasingly spreads and particularly among Thai women in Bangkok and other urbanised centres.
Here are some key insights for understanding and appreciating Thai women if you are interested in Thai dating or finding a marriage or life partner in Thailand:
- Thai women are more traditional than most women in western countries while being more forward thinking in Thailand in grasping new opportunities. The recent internet survey shows Thai women as leaders in adapting to new technology while at the same time they are more comfortable at playing the support role to their relationship partners.
- It has emerged that a certain proportion of Thai women, in recent times, are attracted to foreign relationship partners from western countries. Although the reason for this varies from person to person, this is not entirely driven by economics. Even the most cynical commentators admit that there is something deeper and complex about the phenomenon. The Thai brides of today are likely to be well educated and using the internet to find their ideal life partners.
- It is common for Thai women to place a great emphasis on family ties and their own role in the extended family. This is a key tenet of traditional Thai values. Foreign men should remember to pay their respect to the family of a Thai woman. Thai women are anxious that their prospective or existing life partners look good in the eyes of their family. Any failure in this area can place great strain on the Thai woman and the relationship.
- The recent survey on internet usage in Thailand showed that 72% of users were women indicating the progressive nature of Thai women but it also offers us another insight. The consistent concern highlighted among Thai women was internet pornography. This might come as a surprise to many foreign men who may be even more surprised to learn that a significant proportion of Thai women view intimate poses between men and women or any overt exposure of the female form as offensive or pornographic. But it is true. In general, Thai women are conservative in nature compared to western standards. Nearly all are aware of the realities about prostitution in Bangkok and Pattaya, we have seen that Thai society is rather pragmatic about such activities but most Thai women are more inclined towards old fashioned values of decency and decorum.
Of course it is wrong to create stereotypes and make generalizations but it is clear that the unique culture of Thailand, the timing of world affairs have made this a time when Thai women are emerging in Thailand and all over the world as natural leaders. It is also true to say that the internet is playing a key role in this.
'To understand Thai women is to understand Thai men,' says Sirinya a beautiful Thai women who has a western a boyfriend. Thailand is still a very male dominated society although it is rapidly developing economically and socially.
Thai women are recognized as perhaps the most beautiful in the world with their sleek bodies, clear skins and beautiful smiles. This has brought men from east and west in large numbers seeking Thai girlfriends and Thai wives. Many Thai women from poor rural backgrounds are looking for a better lifestyle while more modern Thai women in Bangkok and key urban centres like Sirinya want a more progressive relationship. The traditional Thai man is quite old fashioned and Thai tradition in the past and even in some places to this day still accepts polygamy and discreet affairs particularly for men of substance and wealth.
Thai women include a variety of races including Filipina-Thai, Chinese-Thai and other asian nationalities. Like all Asian women, Thai women are very beautiful.
In recent years internet dating has allowed Thai women of all backgrounds and social levels to search for suitable life partners. Not all Thai women are looking for foreigners or western partners. Thai women like women all over the world are using the internet to find more ideal partners or soul mates. This has led to a sharp rise in the numbers of Thai Brides in the UK, United States, Austrlia, European and Scandinavian countries.
ThaiLoveLines is the biggest internet dating site in Thailand with the most innovative dating facilities:
- Make a Date Online
- Meet your Match online
- IM - Chat one to one.
- Skype Chat, Phone or SMS