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Posts Tagged ‘Gender in Korean workplace’
There has been quite a transformation in Korean gender related issues. Once a male dominated society, women fared poorly. For example, in family court, custody was granted to the father, especially in the case of sons. (The law was changed and men no longer have automatic custody).
One sign of obvious change is more women in the Korea workplace. They add much and are excellent team members. Much has changed over the past few years. Still, from my perspective this Korea Times article overstates at least with regard to the major business groups the role of women. Since the major Groups are hierarchical with seniority based promotions, it will take more time for women to be in key positions within the major companies.
Korea Times notes:
The remnants of patriarchy are fast disappearing as women assume increasingly bigger roles, the phenomenon that some experts dub as the advent of a neo-matriarchal society. Examples of the strengthening of female power are everywhere including national exams, economic activities and political participation although in some areas males still remain dominant.
Historically, males have ruled in the national exams to become high-ranking officials, diplomats, prosecutors or judges in Korea due in no small part to masculine-oriented Confucianism. But things have been changing rapidly. Among the three most popular exams, successful female applicants account for about a half of the total in the administrative, diplomatic and law tests.
The female proportion is also rising in conservative financial businesses where there are no female CEOs at major banks, insurance companies, asset management firms, futures companies and government agencies. “An increasing number of the highly desirable financial jobs such as ones at the Bank of Korea or the Financial Supervisory Service are being taken by females,” said an official at the central bank. “Currently, the gender disparity is severe at senior levels. As a rising number of females fill junior level vacancies, however, the disparity is likely to weaken in the not-so-distant future. In other words, the voices of women will get louder,” he said.
The demise of patriarchy is felt not merely in the workplace but also at home where housewives make more and more important decisions, according to a survey by Statistics Korea. The state-run agency found early last year that 90.4 percent of housewives take charge of most day-to-day decisions. On topics such as moving house that were conventionally decided by men alone, 85.1 percent of women took part while a mere 14.2 percent of homes were found to stick to the traditional fashion of depending solely on the male.
Businesses are quickly taking note of the paradigm shift from the male-oriented society to the female-centric one. Korean robot makers said one of the biggest trends was the advent of female opportunities. “It is obvious that an increasing number of women will partake in economic activities, while they also give birth to a decreasing number of babies,” said Choi Seong-gu, an economist at the Hyundai Research Institute, who came up with a roadmap for the robotics industry this month. “The industry is ready to embrace this change. For example, the necessity of robots will rise due to the low birthrates, particularly in the household chores sector as women will be busy dealing with social activities in years to come,” he said.
With September’s days passing quickly, a short update on Korea is timely.
1. It seems the Korean economy is recovering. In 2009, we might see the Korean economy only shrink 1.5%. This is considerably less than earlier economic predictions.
2. Although export volume is down ( 20 %), a weak Won has resulted in strong profits for many Korean global firms. (This always seems counter-intuitive, but remember a few years ago when the Won was strong to the U.S. Dollar? Profits plunged and many Korean firms were in a crisis mode with last Q budget cuts, etc.)
3. Many Korean global firms have recently seen record sales numbers. Analysts’ note that Korean firms are among the few to make gains in markets–capitalizing on opportunity. (Remember early this year I stressed this would be an aggressive Korean strategy).
4. I’ll continue to watch trends carefully and report. Meanwhile, please share with your teams Bridging Culture Worldwide Blog’s daily hints on Korean global business. I’m posting one hint each day in September.
BTW My lecture at The Korea Society was well received. I spoke on the Korean car market, and the recent successes of Hyundai and Kia Motors. Lots of Korean media covered the event, too. They seem very interested in thoughts and insights into why Korean cars were making huge strides in market share, etc. (TKS will soon offer a video version of the lecture).
As always, I’m here to support you and your teams. 24-7-365 Please feel free to call 1-310-866-3777 or email.
By Don Southerton, Korea Expert Witness Chief Blogger and Editor
A recent OECD study provides some insights into 2009 Korean gender issues. For one, it points out some gaps in status remain. This confirms my observations in the Korean workplace. That said, more women are seeking a career as a white collar employee vs. temporary worker status. As with their male peers, it’ll take years for them to work their way up the Korean corporate ladder–rigid norms requiring fixed time for each position.
Chosun Ilbo notes
Obesity among Korean women is the lowest among the 30 member countries of the OECD with 3.3 percent, even lower than Japan’s 4.3 percent. Korean women work an average of 44.3 hours per week, the longest among OECD members, and well above the OECD average of 34.3 hours.
Korean men also work the longest hours in the OECD with 48.3 hours, but considering the gender wage gap in Korea, where women only earn 62 percent of what men earn, the gap in working hours is minimal.
The Korea Women’s Development Institute published a report on Korean women’s life and their status to mark the 14th Women’s Week from July 1-7, based mainly on the OECD Factbook 2009 released in April.
One key figure that shows the current status of women in Korea is the rate of participation in economic activities. In Korea, the rate was 58.7 percent in 2008, lower than the OECD average of 63.2 percent. Among Korean men, the rate was 82.2 percent, slightly below the OECD average of 83.3 percent. Along with Greece, Italy and Japan, Korea has a gender gap in economic activity of over 20 percent.
The rate of part-time workers with both work and family duties was 12.5 percent, fourth from the bottom among OECD countries. On the other hand, the proportion of self-employed women among those who worked was 31.2 percent, placing Korea in the higher group along with Turkey (51.5 percent) and Mexico (34.8 percent). Yet these countries have a low index for women’s rights, while advanced countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United States have a rate under 5 percent.
Use of daycare facilities among women with children aged between three and five was 33.9 percent, the lowest in the OECD with Turkey, while France recorded 100 percent.