A world of women
There are now more women than men in Korea. According to Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Family, the female population totaled 25,315,000 in 2015, outnumbering the male total of 25,303,000. Aging was the biggest reason. Women live longer. One out of five - more specifically, 20.8 percent - of the entire female population was age 60 or more. In the upper age group, women outnumbered men by more than 1 million.
There are more males under the age of 60, but the gap is narrowing fast. Among children under the age of nine, boys outnumbered girls by 140,000. The gap used to be more than 400,000 in 2000. The sex ratio was 105.3 boys to 100 girls last year, compared with 110.2 in 2000, and was within the global average of 103 to 107. The change suggests that sex-selective abortions and the preference for boys of the past has waned in the country.
The demographic changes demand reforms and redefinition of gender roles all across the society. Male superiority remains strong in Korean homes and workplaces. The report also underscored striking imbalances of gender roles in homes and offices. For instance, women reported a much higher level of stress from household affairs than men (51.4 degrees against male’s 38.9 degrees). Also, women spent 2 hours 27 minutes on housework compared to men’s 31 minutes. The figures show that Korean women continue to be burdened with household management.
In socioeconomic terms, more women enter colleges than men and are very active in finding jobs. But they still face a glass ceiling once they start work due to a very male workplace culture. In reality, many are forced to give up their jobs to take care of their kids. With our demographic trends, the gap between female and male populations will only widen. For sustainable social and economic progress, female resources must be used more aggressively and wisely. We must break the stereotypical gender roles and work towards building a women-friendly - and more balanced - society.
JoongAng Ilbo, Junly 3, Page 34