chapter  5
18 Pages

Intimacy, Work and Family Life: Social and Personal Issues Confronting Professional Woman in Global Cities

Women in professional life in Hong Kong and Singapore face a number of personal

and social issues that confront women in any global city undergoing rapid economic,

social and political change. While Hong Kong and Singapore are international and

cosmopolitan cities, having international and diverse communities, and becoming

significant centres in terms of the growth of the global knowledge economy, both

are also Chinese cities in terms of composition and history. While the Chinese

populations in Hong Kong and Singapore are very different, and in Singapore are

part of a much broader multi-ethnic mix, there are a number of traditional elements of

Chinese family and business life which give these populations a particular definition,

and which provide professional women with a number of additional challenges to

those they confront in western societies. Hong Kong is a more open society than

Singapore, where attitudes to marriage and procreation are still seen as a legitimate

area of intervention for state policies. Singapore’s pro-natalist policy is of course

well known and is still ongoing, although increasingly challenged by a pragmatic

and materialistic population, somewhat tired by such interventions into their private

lives. However women in both Hong Kong and Singapore are still under pressure to

get married, and being single, whether successful or not, is still a deviant activity, as

is the decision not to procreate. There are also the vestiges of the traditional pattern

of younger women marrying much older Chinese men. Divorce, while increasingly

prevalent, is socially frowned upon and divorcees are seen as social failures in

terms of marriage and procreation. This chapter explores the intersecting nexus of

intimacy, work and family life confronting professional women in two global cities,

Hong Kong and Singapore.