The Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI) said that, as of late last year, the percentage of senior corporate executive jobs held by women at companies with over 1,000 employees stood at 4.7 percent of all posts.
It said the percentage represented a sharp gain from just 1.5 percent in 2007, but it is still far below levels tallied in advanced industrialized economies such as the United States, Sweden and Finland.
According to Catalyst, an international nonprofit organization that aims to expand opportunities for women, the number of U.S. women CEOs and senior executives accounted for 15.7 percent of all posts in conglomerates in the United States. Similar figures collected for the countries of Sweden and Finland reached 27.3 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively.
The KWDI, which surveyed 341 companies, said that because there are so few women in top management positions, most women workers do not aspire to become CEOs.
It said a study showed only 22.6 percent of all female workers aimed for top posts compared to 46 percent of their male counterparts.
“Because there are very few successful role models, many women are satisfied with lower positions,” the think tank said. It pointed out that even in Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest memory chipmaker, the number of women in senior managers totaled 34 – or 1.9 percent of 1,760 managerial positions within the company.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, said last Tuesday that women should be given a chance to become CEOs.
In addition, the latest research showed the number of women CEOs and presidents of companies reached 2.1 percent in 2010, with the percentage going up to 10 percent for managers and 16.1 percent for vice manager-level employees.
The KWDI report added that both women and men believed that discrimination existed in the workplace, with 31.5 percent of female workers saying they have been passed over in promotions and not given positions that could help them rise in the corporate hierarchy.
About 24 percent of male workers agreed that women were at a disadvantage in terms of promotions and evaluations.
It said that 71.9 percent of women believed that the “male-oriented” nature of Korea’s corporate culture hindered promotions.
This includes long hours devoted to making so-called personnel networks that can lead to promotions as well as attending long after-hours dinners and drinking sessions.
Another cause cited for the slower promotions of women compared to men is the burden of raising children, which falls mostly on women in the country.
“Taking time off or getting off work early to take care of children hurts promotions,” the report said.