Glass ceiling is as strong as ever at Korea’s biggest firmsOnly 3 percent of executives at the top 500 companies in Korea were women last year, showing that the glass ceiling for the female workforce remains high, according to a survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on Thursday.
Results of the recent survey of the 500 biggest companies by revenue found that they have a combined 454 woman executives, accounting for only 3 percent of the total.
The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and conducted by the Korean Women’s Development Institute.
The rate was slightly higher than the 2.7 percent in 2016, also up from 2.4 percent in 2015 and 2.3 percent in 2014.
The results also showed that a total of 328 firms out of the 500 surveyed - or 65.5 percent - did not even have a single female executive.
The number of companies that have more than a single female executive increased from 164 to 172.
Having a female executive was most commonplace in the financial and insurance sector - with 45.2 percent of the financial-insurance firms surveyed, each had one or more female executives - followed by the wholesale and retail sector with 35.1 percent and the manufacturing sector at 32.1 percent.
Still, the overall rate of female executives at the financial and insurance sector remained 3.7 percent, up from 2.7 percent from 2016.
The corresponding rates for the manufacturing and the wholesale-retail sectors were 2.7 percent and 1 percent in 2017, respectively.
The institute said in the report that while the number of female executives in the top 500 companies has been growing, it is still below the OECD average of 21.8 percent, indicating that the glass ceiling for female employees remains particularly thick in the private sector compared to other developed countries.
It added that it is important for the national competitiveness to utilize talented female workers.
“Reflecting the economic size of Korea, female representation remains at an embarrassing level,” Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee said. “Based on the results of the latest survey, (the ministry) plans to seek a wide range of measures to increase the population of female executives.”