Gender equality benefits everybody

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Gender equality benefits everybody

Yu Sung-kuk
The author is a reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo. 

“A journalist seems to be a decent job for a woman,” I was once told at a meal with a source. “The maternity leave and job security offered by a news company seems nice.”
“I guess that's true in some ways,” I thought, considering that I have more female than male colleagues. But it didn't take long to realize that wasn't true. Nobody thinks its remarkable if a job is decent for a man, only for a woman. Even in terms of female-dominated professions such as elementary school teachers or nurses, being a minority benefits men. “As there are few male teachers, it is easier for them to get promoted,” one friend told me.
Early this month, a series of executive-level reshuffles took place among conglomerates. For the first time, women that aren't related to the founding family took CEO roles at Samsung, SK and LG.
According to data released by a head-hunting company, the proportion of female executives among the top 100 domestic companies stood at 5.6 percent, with the exact number at 403. The feature is similar at Korea's 32 press companies, at 5.92 percent, according to the Korean Women Journalists Association.
Although the number is growing every year, it is still lagging behind in comparison to the average proportion among OECD member countries, which amounted to 25.6 percent.
As a man in my 30s, I sometimes think that every individual is treated almost equally and we’re about to accomplish gender equality. But the truth is far from it.
What about IT start-ups, an industry that changes rapidly every day? A female cofounder in her 30s said she lives with her fiancé, but found it hard to set a wedding date. This is because one of her seniors told her “do not even mention your marriage when meeting an investor.” A female founder getting married means there is a chance they might give birth to a child. It might become an obstacle to the growth of the company.
There is a club called the “7 Percent Lunch Club.” It was founded by female executives working in the venture capital industry in 2019. Its name originated from the proportion of female certified loan officers in the industry, which stood at only 7 percent, to cheer each other and work together until the number grows to 50 percent. In October, they held an open talk show to share the difficulties of being a woman in the business world.
“Tech Femi,” a group of women working in natural sciences and engineering, is also making efforts to overcome the widespread discrimination in their working environment.
In 2019, the OECD estimated that economic loss induced by gender discrimination is equivalent to 7.5 percent of global gross domestic product.
In 2016, Credit Suisse released data that shows businesses with over 15 percent female executives had a higher return on equity compared to their counterparts.
Michael Kimmel, an American sociologist, pointed out that countries with a higher gender development index show higher gross national happiness, so gender equality is an advantage for both men and women.
I’ll bear in my mind that what I feel is different from the reality — we still have a long way to go to accomplish gender equality — and when we reach that point, I will benefit just as much as anybody else.

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