[EDITORIALS]More Women in Academia

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[EDITORIALS]More Women in Academia

The women professors' association of Seoul National University asked the university to introduce quotas for employing woman doctoral degree holders as professors. They said women should account for 10 percent of total professors at Seoul National University. Women account for only 14.1 percent of the university professors nationwide, and only 6.9 percent of professors at Seoul National University are women. We should consider their demand seriously.

It is difficult for woman doctorate holders to be employed as university professors, although many top university graduates are women and there are many women who go abroad for further studies and devote their careers to research. In the past 10 years, the number of female students, undergraduate and graduate, at Seoul National University grew from 20 percent to 30 percent of the student body. But the percentage of female professors remains at around six percent, the same as it was ten years ago. If this is because women are discriminated against, it is not only a loss for the individuals but for the nation. That discrimination also goes against the mission of the university to pursue learning and train future academic talent.

The introduction of quotas for the employment of female professors is not the best policy, but it is useful in correcting the distorted reality of current discrimination. Korean society is now more accepting of the introduction of quotas to nurture the talents of women. The government is expanding the range of special quotas for women; it introduced quotas for selecting female applicants in the state examinations for selecting administrative officials, diplomatic service officials and other public servants in 1996. The public corporations have a system that grants incentives for employing women, and political parties have introduced quotas requiring women to be at least 30 percent of the candidates for proportional representatives in the National Assembly and local elections.

The university should establish a policy of quotas for selecting women doctorates as professors and implement it gradually. The government should give preferential support to universities who give priority to women for faculty positions.
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