Gender inequality prevails in South Korea
South Korea – Even though many women in South Korea are well-qualified for most jobs, the country still has the seventh lowest employment rate for female professionals globally.
According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 60% of Korean women have university education but only 52% of them are employed. The average OECD female employment rate is 59.6%.
The country also has the largest pay disparity between men and women at 39%. According to the Korean Women’s Development Institute, the figure is more than twice that of the OECD average of 16%.
The pay disparity was also attributed to the high number of female temp staff in the country. According to Statistics Korea data, about 42% of the 7.24 million employed women held part-time or contract jobs, while only 28% of the 9.83 million men were irregular contract staff.
Furthermore, only 4.7% of senior executives at companies employing more than 1,000 people were women, compared to 39.5% in Norway and 15.7% in the US.
Samsung Electronics’ chairman Lee Kun-hee said recently that women should be given the opportunities to take on chief executive roles to narrow the pay gap between genders.
Yet according to the company’s regulatory filing for the first half of this year, its 69,000 male employees on average drew 38.1 million won (S$400,000), while its 31,000 female employees earned an average 22.3 million won (S$253,000).
At LG Chem’s petrochemicals division, male employees took home on average 1.94 times more pay than their female colleagues.
A female employee at a major manufacturing firm, who declined to be named, said a male-centric culture remains prevalent at many Korean companies, particularly in her industry. Her peer was recently passed over for a promotion in favour of a male colleague even though she was considered more capable and experienced than him.
She said, “Obviously it’s not an official policy to not promote women but more often than not a woman will be looked over if there is any male candidate.”
A male HR professional employee at a mid-sized manufacturing company said, “I don’t know if women simply don’t like our company but the higher-ups seem to dislike hiring women for administrative positions.”
He added that his management team tend to perceive that “women will leave once they get married or become pregnant”.
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