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Office workers feel weight of the glass ceiling

Mar 27,2018
More than three in five women in Korea believe the glass ceiling exists in the workplace, while only two in five men agree, according to the latest survey released by job search website Saramin on Monday.

A total of 819 office workers were polled, and while 65.7 percent of female respondents said gender inequality hindered career advancement, 41.3 percent of male respondents agreed.

In the questionnaire, Saramin also asked about specific cases in which respondents felt the limitations of the glass ceiling. Around 46.6 percent of those who said it exists, regardless of gender, said they felt it most after seeing multiple cases in which the role of team or project leader was given to a man. Multiple answers were allowed.

The No. 2 answer, with 36.1 percent, was when women failed to get promoted to the same rank as male peers. In third was when the company frequently sent men to important client meetings or business trips.

Around 27.6 percent said they felt the glass ceiling acutely when seeing female colleagues quit after maternity leave. Although this may seem like a choice, there are cases when the worker comes back to see her position already filled by another person or the company applying pressure in indirect ways like abruptly sending her off to another team to get her to quit, a Saramin spokesman said.

It was also revealed in the survey that men generally believed they would work up the workplace hierarchy to a level higher than what women might expect to achieve. Twenty-eight percent of male workers said they believed to end their career as a senior executive, whereas only 6 percent of female respondents said the same.

Among female respondents who said the glass ceiling was real, 66.4 percent said they actually had experiences or heard comments that made them believe their career might be shorter than that of their male peers.

With multiple answers allowed, 54.5 percent said they felt it was hard to get a promotion after a certain level. Forty-six percent said they felt pressure after hearing comments that associated marriage and giving birth with their capacity at work.

Fifty-eight percent of female workers who acknowledged the existence of the glass ceiling said they already received disadvantages at work due to their gender. Getting a lower wage than a male peer who entered the company at the same time received the highest response at 60.2 percent. Second was a lower wage increase compared to male workers, at 48 percent, and 46.3 percent cited experiencing male peers get promoted first.

Regardless of gender, 32.8 percent of all respondents said the infrastructure to help women find a balance between work and home was pivotal to truly breaking the glass ceiling; 23.7 percent said a male-centered corporate culture should be abolished; and 17.6 percent said there should be a change in perception about working women.

“We need a fairer personnel assessment system strictly based on work capacity, regardless of gender,” said Lim Min-wook, head of Saramin’s PR team. “There also needs to be supportive government policy to prevent working moms from being left with no choice but to leave the workplace.”


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