Tiny crack appears in Korea’s glass ceiling

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Tiny crack appears in Korea’s glass ceiling

There are more than 200 female senior executives at Korea’s top 100 companies for the first time ever, according to the Korea CXO Institute on Monday.

The private institute, which conducts research on CEOs and top executives in Korean conglomerates, analyzed first-half reports from the country’s 100 largest enlisted firms by revenue.

The results showed that there are a total of 216 female senior executives this year. The number increases to 224 including female executives who are members of conglomerate families.

The number of female executives has steadily increased over the last two decades: in 2004, when records began, there were 13. By 2013, the figure rose above 100 for the first time, to 114.

However, the ratio of female senior executives to male senior executives remained incredibly low, at 3.2 percent of the 6,843 executives.

“As years go by, the number of females in top management increased but their proportion is still below 5 percent, which demonstrates that the glass ceiling still exists,” the report said.

By company, Samsung Electronics topped the list with 57 female executives. AmorePacific came second with 14, followed by Lotte Shopping and food company CJ CheilJedang with 10 each. Tech companies were also high on the list - Samsung SDS has nine female executives, KT has eight and SK Telecom has seven.

Although Samsung Electronics has the highest number of female executives, they still account for an incredibly small percentage of total executives, at just 5.5 percent.

In terms of ratio, AmorePacific takes the top spot, with 18.7 percent female executives. LG Household & Health Care was second at 15.8 percent, followed by CJ CheilJedang at 12.2 percent and Samsung SDS at 10.5 percent.

Another positive sign came from the number of companies that had female executives, a total of 55 this year. In 2004, only 10 companies had a female senior executive. This figure has slowly increased over the years, but even in 2016 less than half of the top companies had female executives.

“At the current speed, female senior executives among top 100 companies in Korea will exceed 300 by 2021,” said Oh Il-sun, head of the Korea CXO Institute.

Oh also pointed out that regardless of gender, a majority of senior executives had an academic background or career in science and engineering.

“We need more female employees and engineers in shipbuilding, construction, petrochemical, vehicles, machines, steelmaking and many more areas in order to accelerate the speed of female managers reaching the top executive level,” he said.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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