Women returning to work expect smaller salaries

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Women returning to work expect smaller salaries

Women who left their careers to get married or have children would on average settle for a monthly salary of 1.75 million won ($1,480) should they get reemployed, a survey of 274 such women aged 30 or older showed.

According to the poll conducted by the Center for Large and Small Business Cooperation under the Federation of Korean Industries, women who interrupted their careers - often referred to by the Korean acronym gyeongdannyeo - wished to receive on average 88.4 percent of the wage they previously earned.

About 43.7 percent wished to receive between 1.5 million won and 2 million won, while 41.8 percent wanted to get between 1 million won and 1.5 million won.

Almost half of the participants said their career was interrupted by having a child, whereas 15.7 percent cited marriage. Nearly 10 percent said they left because they didn’t see a future in their occupation.

One reason the salary expectations were so low is because many of the women were not at their jobs very long before leaving.

But another is that women in Korea usually already make less than their male counterparts. According to Statistics Korea last year, women receive a monthly wage that is, on average, 63.1 percent of what their male counterparts took home.

Women who quit their jobs often also have difficulty getting rehired in Korea, where there are already fewer women in the workforce. As of the first quarter, the percentage of economically active women aged 15 to 64 was 56.9 percent, much lower than the OECD average of 62.8 percent, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Lim, 40, is one such gyeongdannyeo. She worked at a software unit of a conglomerate for two years and quit when she got married. She decided to get a job after her children became seniors in elementary school and applied to several companies, but she couldn’t even get an interview. She gave up and obtained a beauty therapist certificate. She now works at a plastic surgery clinic, and considers herself very lucky to have found a job at all.

“The door open to gyeongdannyeo is still very narrow,” said Kim Dong-joon, a senior researcher at the center.

The survey found 43.9 percent of the respondents consider age the biggest barrier to getting reemployed, followed by having to take care of the household and children at 20.4 percent. Responsibilities at home was one reason the distance between the home and workplace was the top consideration when it came to job searching, cited by 31.1 percent of respondents. Other priorities included whether or not the new job was full-time and the level of salary.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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