[Letters] Brain drain and the gender gapRegarding your article entitled, “Report blames single women for low fertility rate,” I would like to point out that the word “blame” has negative connotations, which should be applied at least equally to Korean men.
Korea ranks low on international gender equality scales, along with many Muslim countries, such as Pakistan. More specifically, according to the “2008 Global Gender Gap Report” released on the 11th by The World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, South Korea ranked 108th out of 130 countries surveyed.
South Korea also has the highest income gap between genders among OECD countries. So, a serious problem exists in the social fabric that places half the population, namely women, at a great disadvantage. The social structure will have to change to give incentives for women to marry, as marriage in its current state offers women few advantages. Domestic and child care responsibilities rest exclusively on the women, even for women that work full-time.
Korean women have the added burden of increased family obligations with marriage, such as caring for the elderly. It appears that systematic changes would be required to give women incentives to marry, such as improved child care services, greater employment security for mothers and, most of all, greater responsibility on fathers for domestic chores and childcare.
I see many Korean students coming to the United States for graduate school, and in most cases the men wish to return to Korea, while the women generally do not. The reason is that Korean women clearly see that life is more onerous for them in Korea.
In fact, I witness many Korean women that do stay and become professionals in the United States, such as professors, doctors, lawyers, etc. So, this might constitute a significant brain drain from Korea, from a population that feels unappreciated at home.
Carol Eunmi Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison