Most Koreans Want Women to Keep Working After Childbirth

      May 24, 2022 08:32

      A majority of Koreans want women to continue their careers after childbirth, a survey by the Chosun Ilbo and the Institute for Social Development and Policy Research at Seoul National University finds.

      In the survey of some 1,800 people over 16, 55.3 percent of respondents said two children are the ideal number, but Korea's actual birthrate stands at just 0.81 child per woman. A major reason is that women's careers are often cut short if they have a child, with 72.2 percent saying childbirth and childcare are the main reasons women's careers are snuffed out.

      Six out of 10 female respondents in their 20s and 30s said having children would get in the way of accomplishing their professional goals in Korean society. 

      As long as women are effectively forced to quit their jobs after childbirth, gender inequality in employment and wages cannot be addressed. According to the Federation of Korean Industries, around 180,000 women work for Korea's top 100 businesses, which is less than one-third of the number of men.

      The average annual wage male workers in those companies make was W92 million last year, compared to W63 million for women, while men worked 13.1 years on average and women just 9.6 years (US$1=W1,263).

      Kim Nan-joo at the Korean Women's Development Institute said, "Companies tend to avoid hiring women because they either take maternity leave or quit due to childbirth, and this prevents women from climbing further up the corporate ladder. Unless this problem is resolved, the low birthrate, hiring inequality and wage gap will only worsen." 

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