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Job equality improves, slightly

Women still paid less, underrepresented and at risk of violent crime
June 28,2017
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Less than 40 percent of employees at large companies in Korea were women in 2016, recent government data showed.

According to data released by Statistics Korea on Tuesday, the proportion of female workers in private and public sector companies with more than 500 employees, which offer relatively higher salaries, reached 37.8 percent as of 2016, up 7 percentage points from 2006.

“[The proportion of female workers] has been rising since the government adopted the Affirmative Action policy that went into effect in 2006,” said Yoon Yeon-ok, a director at the statistics agency. The policy requires companies with more than 500 employees that fail to hire as many women as other similar sized firms to file a report to the government and hire more women.

The number of women who hold managerial positions at such companies amounted to 20.1 percent, nearly double the 10.2 percent recorded in 2006.

“The female employment rate continues to rise in the country and the gap with men has been narrowing,” said Yoon. “Also, the female unemployment rate is lower than men’s.”

However, the statistics agency found that the wage gap between men and women remains high.

As of 2016, a female worker earned 1.87 million won ($1,643) a month on average, up 88,000 won from 2015, which is only 64.1 percent of the average for men.

According to Statistics Korea, many Korean women are concerned about crime.

“The largest number of female survey respondents said crime was the biggest threat to their safety, followed by national security and financial problems,” said Yoon.

“People aged between 13 and 29 said crime was the biggest threat they face in society, while people over 60 thought national security was the most dangerous.”

The number of female victims of violent crimes, including murder, robbery and sexual assault, rose from 6,245 in 2000 to 27,940 in 2015.

Among the 31,431 total victims of such crimes in 2015, 88.9 percent of were women, and the figure rose 0.2 percentage points from the previous years.

By type of crime, victims of sexual assault continued to rise from 2010. Among the total female victims of violent crimes, 85.3 percent were sexually assaulted in 2010, but the figure jumped to 94.1 percent in 2015.

Statistics Korea also found that fewer Korean women believe marriage is a must. According to the data, 47.5 percent of women aged over 13 believed that they must marry, which is a sharp drop from the 59.1 percent recorded in 2010. The figure was 8.8 percentage points lower than amongst men, where 56.3 percent felt they must marry.

During the same period, perceptions on divorce have changed as well. The figure for women who said they should never divorce dropped from 52.2 percent in 2010 to 34.2 percent last year.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]