Dramatic lack of diversityYUN SEOK-MAN
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Recently, Korea University published a “diversity report,” the first of its kind among private universities in Korea. It showed that 16 percent of its professors were female, far below Yale’s 56 percent, Stanford’s 55 percent and Harvard’s 53 percent. Some colleges had no female professors. As many as 58 percent of the professors graduated from Korea University, and 72 percent of administrators involved in decision-making are from the school.
What about the students? While 48 percent were female, only 18 percent were from low-income households — much lower than the nationwide 28 percent average. At the other end of the scale, 45 percent came from privileged backgrounds, far higher than the average 25 percent. Geographically, 95 percent of students came from cities. The report states, “The bias of classes homogenizes the experience of members and weakens the foundation of intellectual diversity.”
Korea University is opening a three-credit diversity class next semester. From July, the university is publishing a monthly magazine “Diversitas.” Earlier in 2016, the university abolished merit scholarships and expanded scholarships for low-income students. While there is a long way to go, it’s worth noting that Korea University is making efforts to enhance diversity.
How about the National Assembly? Just 19 percent of the members of the 21st National Assembly are women, of which 59 percent are in their 50s and 23 percent in their 60s. Only 4 percent of lawmakers are in their 20s and 30s. The multicultural population surpasses 1 million, but there is not a single politician with a multicultural background.
The National Assembly should be representative of the population it serves. When its members are not diverse, a certain group is overrepresented and another group’s voice is not reflected. The dichotomic mindset of taking a side and treating differences as “incorrect” stems from a lack of diversity.
How about drafting a diversity report for the National Assembly? It’d be useful for politicians to reflect on how they are distant from the average citizen, and I urge the ruling party to set an example.
The ruling party promised to give 30 percent of leadership positions to women, and it should be called out for forgoing its campaign pledge. Most of all, the president would not approve of this. Think about the photo of the president signing a letter, surrounded by five female aids in the office back in 2018. The ruling party can enhance diversity by learning from the president.