Many Highly Educated Women Stay at Home

The proportion of Korean women who go to university is among the highest in the world with 80.5 percent, but only 53.5 percent have jobs.

That is way far short of the OECD average of 57.2 percent.

Some 90,559 married women with master's degrees or PhDs are do not work, according to analysis of statistics for 2012 by the Korean Women's Development Institute for the Chosun Ilbo.

Three out of 10 or 31.4 percent of married women with MAs or PhDs are full-time housewives, contrasting with just 14.5 percent of unmarried women with MAs or PhDs.

But fewer than 10 percent of men, married or unmarried, with MAs or PhDs have no jobs.

In other words, marriage still has a disproportionate impact on the professional lives of women.

Last year, the average annual tuition for graduate schools here was W8.27 million (US$1=W1,051). This means it costs W57.89 million to earn a doctorate over an average period of seven years. The cost is far higher for graduate schools abroad.

There are about 8.29 million full-time housewives across the country, and one in every 100 of them has an MA or PhD. That means a whopping 90,000 women are staying at home with no chance to use their skills despite the cost and effort involved in getting their qualifications.

Intensive interviews with 10 married women in their 30s and 40s with MAs or PhDs who had no jobs reveals that they have either never worked or quit working. If they quit, it was because they believed children should be looked after by their mothers, felt they had no choice because they were unable to combine childcare and work, or they failed to find new jobs because they got their qualification relatively late in life after they got married and had children.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 09, 2014 08:23 KST