[EDITORIALS]A much needed resource“Korean Women Illustrated by Statistics,” a report published Wednesday by the National Statistical Office, shows that Korean companies are not making full use of the female workforce. Our society still sees women as the source of “inexpensive, extra labor.” Although women work the same number of hours as men, they are paid 36.1 percent less than their male counterparts. Part-time workers account for as high as 66.5 percent of the female labor force, much higher than that of male workers.
More serious is the paucity of female professionals in fields that play a leading role in our society. Although the number of male and female students enrolling in universities are nearly equal, one third fewer female graduates find jobs. In 2001, women accounted for 25.3 percent of those who had passed the national civil service examination, but only 2.4 percent of jobs among senior government officials, above the rank of grade 4, are held by women. Korea ranks 96th among 120 countries, in terms of the ratio of women in the legislature and local assemblies. In private universities, the percentage of female professors has exceeded 10 percent. As long as women are steered to filling vacancies left over by men, their resolve to find jobs outside the house will be futile.
Korea cannot be a winner in international competition as long as it under utilizes the talents of its female workers. Not only in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, but also in China, female workers have advanced so far that Korea is no match. In the 21st century, values traditionally attributed to women, such as sensibility, will become dominant factors. To secure a competitive edge, Korea must fully utilize female manpower, or it will not be possible for Korea to reach $20,000 per capita income.
From top management to middle managers, people should be motivated to train workers without discrimination. There should be support for childcare, and men should share the burden of household chores and childcare. Meeting these conditions will make it possible to provide a steady female workforce for the Korean economy.