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Korea still leads on IT, but equality is lacking

Nov 07,2017
Korea is a world leader when it comes to information and communication technology but falls far behind the global average when it comes to women in top jobs, according to a report released by the Korea International Trade Association on Monday.

The annual report collates data on Korea’s economy, trade and social indexes released by various global institutions and associations over the past year, including the World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, UN and International Monetary Fund. Most of the information collected for this year’s report was based on figures from last year.

In information and communication technology, Korea managed to stay at the top of the table. The International Telecommunication Union ranked Korea first out of 175 countries. Korea was also top for internet speed, at 26.1 megabit per second, followed by Norway and Sweden.

On the contrary, indexes associated with female labor placed Korea well below average. The female labor force participation rate in the country was 58.4 percent, ranking 31 among 35 OECD countries. The OECD average was 63.5 percent.

Some ratings that indicated the ratio of women to men in top jobs actually retreated compared to five years ago. Korea ranked 45th out of 46 countries for the percentage of female board members in 2016, according to a report from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). The same index placed Korea 40th back in 2011.

On the percentage of women working in the legislature, Korea fell from 100th in 2011 to 118th last year among 188 countries, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

By percentage, both reports on top-ranked female workers showed improvement in the five-year period: the ratio of female board members rose from 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent and that of female lawmakers from 14.7 percent to 17 percent. The lower rating suggests that although Korean society is changing, it is doing so at a slower pace than the rest of the world.

Korea’s ability to attract a top-quality work force has also worsened. The IMD ranked Korea 54th out of 63 countries for the impact that the emigration of highly trained people is having on the country’s competitiveness. The lower a country ranked on this list, the less emigration is impacting it’s workforce. Korea has fallen 5 places since 2012.

Korea’s ability to attract highly qualified employees from overseas has also fallen. The report placed the country 48th this year, down 18 ranks from 2012.

Economic indicators have hardly changed. Korea’s nominal GDP last year was $1.3 trillion, 11th among 188 countries. Trade volume was $902 billion, 9th among 204 countries.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]