SEOUL, South Korea – Higher education yields less employment opportunities for women compared to men in South Korea, according to a new government study.
Released by the Seoul Metropolitan Government Monday, the report analyzed survey data of people who earned degrees from high school to graduate school in 2013. The results showed that employment rates drop the more educated a female becomes, compared to their male counterparts.
In the case of specialized two-year degrees, it was found that women obtained quality employment at a higher rate than men. While for undergraduates, the difference in gender employment only differed by 5 percent – male 55.6 percent, female 51.3 percent
But the more concentrated their studies became, the wider the inequality grew.
For graduates of polytechnic universities, employment rates for males were 64.9 percent compared to 58.8 percent for females. The gap widened another 4 percent for higher-level education including masters and doctorate programs (58.5 percent women versus 68.9 percent for men) and the difference became even more pronounced for natural science and engineering.
To address this issue, the Korea Education Development Institute (KEDI) – which conducted and analyzed the data – and the city of Seoul hosted the Women’s Employment Vision Forum on September 15 at Sookmyung Women’s University.
These numbers are reflective of the country’s labor participation rates.
Roughly 57 percent of South Korean females are economically active as opposed Germany’s 69 percent and Sweden’s 73 percent. In addition, the ratio of women to men in upper management positions is 1:9, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). This lack of female presence in key positions is one of the main reasons the WEF ranks South Korea in the bottom third of the world for gender equality.
South Korea recently topped the rankings for gender pay discrepancy among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Over the last decade, the OECD average pay gap closed 4.4 percentage points from 19.2 percent in 2000 to 14.8 percent in 2011. During that same time, South Korea’s gap decreased by 2.9 points from 40.4 percent to 37.5 percent. South Korea has ranked first for highest gender pay inequality for the past 13 consecutive years or since the OECD first began collecting the data.