Hong Kong is arguably a stellar example when it comes to women taking part in politics. Over the years, there has been no shortage of top female civil servants and lawmakers. We also have had the first female chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who rose through the ranks to take the helm in 2017. Impressive as it seems, the political sphere is still predominantly a man’s world as in many places across the globe. Social prejudice and expectation mean gender equality remains a work in progress. The problem is not just reflected in the relatively low ratio of women in the Legislative Council, 17.1 per cent in 2016, and district councils, 19.5 per cent last year. While the proportion of women as government officials has risen to 38 per cent today, the rate has slowed in recent years, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission, the statutory body that fights discrimination and promotes gender equality. A recent study by the watchdog exposed systemic issues. While more than 60 per cent of respondents believed men and women had equally good leadership qualities, 71.6 per cent also said men were more capable in dealing with security affairs, compared with 51.9 per cent on economic matters, finance and trade. However, 42.9 per cent said women were more capable in social welfare. When it came down to the three main obstacles facing women seeking political leadership, about half named “domestic responsibilities”, “traditional attitudes of gender roles” and “double standards between genders to prove themselves”. ESF chief admits ‘unconscious bias’ after accusations of racism and sexism The problems are apparently not just confined to the political domain. The latest figures from Community Business show only 13.7 per cent of those on boards of Hang Seng Index companies in the second quarter were women, a similar level for the past two years. Prejudice and expectation cannot be altered overnight. But changes in policies and work arrangements help create a more enabling environment for women to pursue careers in business and politics. Working from home during the Covid-19 epidemic has proved useful for many. It would be good if more flexibility could be provided in the long run.