The number of women in Seoul with university degrees almost doubled over the last decade, but only a small number of them are joining the workforce. The Seoul city government on Sunday said the number of women over 30 with at least a bachelor's degree surged 95.4 percent from 575,363 in 2000 to 1.12 million last year.
That means 43.8 percent of the highly educated residents in the capital were women. Over the same period, the number of men with at least a first degree rose 45.1 percent from 995,076 to 1.44 million.
The number of women with master's degrees or PhDs also almost tripled over that period from 59,000 to 150,000. More and more women in Seoul went on to university, with their university entrance rate steadily rising from 54.6 percent in 2000 and 66 percent in 2010, compared to 59.8 percent for men. It surpassed that for men for the first time in 2008.
Despite the narrowing gap in the academic levels between men and women, there is still a chasm in the so-called rate of participation in economic activities. The rate was 52.1 percent for women over 30, 30.7 points lower than among men. The rate includes those who are employed as well as people who are looking for jobs.
Last year, there were 1.66 million women in Seoul over 30 who were participating in economic activities, or five out of every 10 in that group, compared to eight out of 10 men over 30. Among women with at least a bachelor's degree, the figure was 65.4 percent, as against 88.9 percent of their male counterparts.
The number of women in specialized or managerial positions rose almost 20 percent from 431,000 in 2005 to 516,000 in 2010. But there was a markedly higher proportion of women employed on a temporary or one-off basis (42.1 percent) compared to those on regular payrolls (36.1 percent).
As academic levels rise, more and more women are staying single. Among women between 25 and 34, the prime years for marriage, 61.7 percent were unmarried, up 24.7 points over the last 10 years. The overall ratio of women with spouses fell from 61.6 percent in 2000 to 37.2 percent last year. A Seoul Metropolitan Government official said women cited childcare as the biggest obstacle in finding employment.