In public finance, a thick glass ceiling

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In public finance, a thick glass ceiling


Women account for just 4 percent of senior-level officials in public financial institutions, a lawmaker from the ruling party revealed Wednesday.

In the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, Bank of Korea and nine other government agencies, there are only 48 women with a bureaucratic grade level of 3 or above, representing 3.9 percent of 1,233 high-ranking officials in the agencies, according to data released by Democratic Rep. Kim Du-kwan, who serves on the finance committee of the National Assembly.

There are nine tiers in Korea’s bureaucracy, with entry-level civil servants at level 9 and deputy ministers belonging to level 1.

In the Finance Ministry, only one woman holds a senior position out of the 112 people in that level. Across the ministry, women comprise about 29 percent of the workforce.

The National Tax Service and Korea Customs Service have no women in the senior level. The tax service has 53 high-level bureaucrats and the customs agency has 30. The void is stark because women account nearly 40 percent of the tax service’s workforce and close to 38 percent of the customs agency’s workforce.

The dismal number of women in high-level positions is seen across the central government as well. Last year, female bureaucrats of level 4 or above accounted for 13.5 percent of all senior officials, a jump from about 9 percent in 2012. The government aims to raise the percentage to 15 by the end of the year.

“As we are in an era in which women are expanding their professional roles, the fact that there is this thick glass ceiling at the Finance Ministry is suggestive of what working conditions for women are like across other government ministries,” Representative Kim said. “I urge the Finance Ministry to take the lead in breaking the glass ceiling.”

During his campaign, President Moon Jae-in promised to fill at least 30 percent of minister positions with women. Currently, there are five female ministers out of 17 positions filled, representing about 29 percent.

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