Has anyone wondered if the Julia Braverman-Joel Graham family in the NBC drama series "Parenthood" will ever be a typical household in Malaysia?
The family drama, which drew the curtain on its second season recently, follows the trials and tribulations of three generations of the Braverman family.
Issues like single parenthood, special needs children, alcohol abuse, teenagers' problems, extra marital affairs and mix-parentage child may not be so peculiar with the Malaysian audience, especially the urbanites.
However, what has caught the audience's interest here is Julia Braverman-Joel Graham household, where Graham is a stay-at-home dad for their five-year old daughter, Sydney.
Julia is not just a regular working mom, but she's a successful attorney at a top firm.
Like any married couples, Julia and Joel face ups and downs in their marriage, but well-adjusted Sydney receives no less attention from both her parents.
Now, how many husbands in Malaysia will feel as secure as Joel in being Mr Mom and support his wife's ambitions in climbing the corporate ladder?
The Julia-Joel household may be common in the West, but how long would it take for this type of family to be a typical one in Malaysia, where the cultural expectation that a woman's place is at home is still prevalent?
The government recently made it compulsory for the private sector to have 30 per cent of women at the decision-making level within five-years' time. The same quota was introduced in the public sector seven years earlier, which resulted in higher percentage of women in the sector's premier grade, from 18.8 per cent in 2004 to 32.2 per cent last year.
Women organisations are all for the policy as they believe that it will break thick glass ceilings at workplace and allow women to break into the old boys' club.
However, some employers contend that the policy is an insult to qualified women as they could be seen as the "golden skirts" - a derogatory term used to describe female board members in Norway. The Scandinavian country introduced a 40 per cent quota for women board members in 2003.
Up to November last year, women formed less than 8 per cent of board members of 200 companies listed on Bursa Malaysia. In the financial sector, up to April, only 45 people or 6 per cent of the board members in financial institutions are women.
For a country that aspires to be a high income, developed nation by 2020, it definitely would not have introduced a policy that would not contribute to better growth economically and in the corporate sector.
For many years, the number of females has exceeded males in both graduate and post-graduate studies in Malaysia, yet this does not qualify women for mid to senior positions in companies.
Today's corporate world, characterised by globalisation and ever-changing rules of the game, requires skills and talent possessed by women such as multi-tasking, emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), people skills and a stronger sense of accountability, responsibility and integrity.
The EQ, which measures personality and temperament characteristics that have strong relations to life success, has already replaced the intelligent quotient (IQ) as a measure of effective leaders.
Malaysian women, with good education, ability to wear many hats as well as having higher EQ and better interpersonal and social skills, would make able leaders.
Management consultancy McKinsey, in its report Women Matter 2010, found that companies with gender-balanced executive boardrooms are 56 per cent more profitable than all-male boards. It also found that companies with a third or more women on senior team have a higher return on equity.
According to a catalyst survey, companies with three or more women on their boards of directors, on average generate an 83 per cent higher return on equity, a 73 per cent higher return on sales and 112 per cent higher return on invested capital.
Now that the policy is in place, companies in Malaysia have to develop a strategy to attract women from the untapped talent pool and identify high potential women employees to be included in the the succession planning. This has to be done based on merit, capabilities and leadership potential.
According to employment services firm Manpower, companies should incorporate a culture of work-life balance to all employees as family responsibilities are not limited to women.
Now is the time for Malaysian women to grab the opportunity that comes knocking on their doors. Women must be ready to climb the career ladder, push themselves and should not hesitate to flaunt their talents and accomplishments.