중앙데일리

Korean women near bottom in job market

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Sept 21,2009
Korean women are among the least economically active of those in advanced economies, an international survey showed the month.

Experts say this is partly because they are given a back seat in the country’s still male-prioritized job market. A heavy responsibility for housekeeping has also dissuaded them from working, they argue.

The employment outlook by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which included several surveys, showed that 54.7 percent of Korean women aged 15-64 were working or seeking work as of the end of last year, a figure only ahead of Mexico (43.4 percent) and Turkey (26.7 percent) among the 30 OECD countries. The OECD average was 61.3 percent. The remaining 45.3 percent of women were economically inactive, meaning they had no willingness to work or had given up trying to land a job out of frustration.

On the other hand, 77.3 percent of the Korean men were economically active, putting Korea 22nd in that segment. The relative labor inactiveness of Korean women was more tangible in the part-time segment, the employment outlook report showed.

Jobs requiring 30 hours of work or less a week are traditionally reserved for women more than men, with 72.4 percent of the part-timers being women in the OECD countries on average last year. In Luxembourg, women accounted for 91.9 percent of the part-timers last year. But, in Korea, the figure was only 59.0 percent, the lowest among the OECD countries.

“Because of the burden of childbearing and housekeeping, women in Korea traditionally show low economic activity,” said an official of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, on condition of anonymity. “There are also not many part-time jobs available for women.”

The ministry also said unfair treatment in the job market is also forcing women to the sidelines.

The OECD report showed that the median wage for Korean men was 38 percent higher than that for Korean women last year, putting Korea atop the OECD list in the wage gap between the genders.

A total of 21 countries were surveyed on that issue. Data for the other nine was not available.

The average of the 21 OECD countries surveyed was 18 percent with Hungary boasting “absolute gender equality” at 0 percent.

Meanwhile, working hours for Korean workers were the longest among 29 OECD countries studied on the point, standing at 2,316 hours a year last year, the report showed.



By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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