Women now outnumber men among university entrants. According to data released by Statistics Korea last week, the university entrance rate among women surpassed the rate for men for the first time in 2009 and the gap has been widening ever since.
In 2013, the gap was 7.1 percentage points with the rate among women at 74.5 percent compared to 67.4 percent for men.
The rate refers only to the ratio of high school graduates who go on to university right after graduation. Yun Myung-jun at Statistics Korea said, "Parents now want to send all of their children to university regardless of gender, and many young men opt to take a year off or serve their mandatory military service if they fail to gain university entrance straight out of school."
Women are also a growing presence in the major professions. As of last year, women accounted for 46 percent of those who passed the higher civil service exam, 40.2 percent of those who passed the state bar exam and 59.5 percent of those who passed the diplomatic service exam.
Last year women occupied 8.8 percent of senior civil service positions, a fourfold increase from 2001.
Now 27.4 percent of judges, 25.4 percent of prosecutors and 19.4 percent of lawyers are women. This trend is also evident in the medical profession, where women accounting for 23.9 percent of doctors, 64.3 percent of pharmacists and 18.8 percent of oriental practitioners.
Women already heavily dominate the teaching profession, accounting for 76.6 percent of elementary, middle and high school teachers, though just 23 percent of university professor positions.
One in four households has a woman registered as the head of the family.
However, women still lag behind men in terms of income. Although the wage gap between men and women continues to narrow, women still earn only 68.1 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries. This is because many women fill temporary or contract positions.
Their so-called economic participation rate stands at 50.2 percent, 23 percentage points lower than among men, while 20.1 percent of married women quit their jobs after tying the knot.