Remember how back in my last post about the low marriage rate - of which there have now been two - Catherine mentioned in the comments that a huge reason for this is that the Taiwanese simply work too hard? If you're in the office all day, slaving away for a wage far lower than you deserve (the average salary for those entry-level Office Ladies is about NT$30,000, and considering the hours they work, that's just sad), the odds grow against the likelihood of finding the time to meet, date, get to know and possibly marry someone.
That is absolutely true, especially for the Science Park, where people continually admit to working twelve hours a day not because there's a special project or something in particular that requires temporary extra effort, but as a matter of course because every project is urgent, understaffed and requires this effort. One can technically refuse and go home on time, but if that's you, expect to be the first person placed on mandatory unpaid leave and the last person to be promoted.
There's an added layer to all this, though: the ratio of men to women in the science park is 14 to 1. Fourteen men for every woman. Fourteen times as many men as women. Fourteen times. I shudder to think that a lot of the women who do work in the science park are generally secretaries or in marketing or HR, leaving the ratio of male to female engineers something astonishingly disparate.
(To their credit, Mediatek's ratio is about 8 to 1, which, while not great, is an improvement).
I've seen this play out in my classes - of my long term courses at tech companies, most of the classes are entirely male. At one company there was one woman working in R&D out of 11 students. I have another class with 4 students, including one woman, which is sadly unusual. I will say that at Acer, where I teach no permanent classes but do a lot of training seminars for recent recruits, there are generally quite a few women among the new hires...at least in my classes.
"So is there a 'science park dating scene'?" I asked.
"A little bit. People do date, even between companies because we all live in Xinzhu. It's not a big city...but how can we have a dating scene? Fourteen to one! Who would we date?"
"Besides," he added. "Many of my coworkers are 35 and have never had a girlfriend. They don't know how to speak to women. The ones who are married usually married a classmate. If you don't do that, it is really hard to date."
I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that the disparity between men and women in the Taiwanese tech sector is entirely discrimination or milder but still pernicious assumptions about gender roles - although that is probably partly the case.
I do think this is an issue that needs to be addressed by that industry - there's way too much acceptance of "men become engineers, women become accountants".
That said, interestingly, the wealthiest person in Taiwan is no longer Terry Gou, it's now Cher Wang, the chairwoman of HTC (also the most powerful woman in the Taiwanese tech sector).
That's something to be proud of, at least.