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More Women Hired, But Fewer Retained

Posted August. 02, 2006 03:01,   


One of the top ten Korean companies, named A, employed 571 college graduates in 1996, among which only 3.8 percent or 21 of them, were women.

This year, ten years from then, the number of women out of the 160 newly employed was 45 (28 percent). This shows such an increase of the number of highly qualified women having decent jobs.

However, while the number of remaining female employees out of the 21 women employed 10 years ago is 14 percent (three), that of men is 54 percent (298). It is true that the number of the newly employed women continues to increase is one issue. But encouraging them to stay long has become another new matter.

On August 1, a Dong-A Ilbo reporting team analyzed how the newly employed college graduates 10 years ago entered and left their company targeting top ten Korean companies based on their sales volume. They are namely Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Company, Korea Electric Power Corporation, LG Electronics, Samsung Life Insurance, SK, POSCO, Kookmin Bank, GS Caltex, and Kia Motors.

This survey showed a rapid rise in the number of the female college graduates entering the top ten companies in Korea from 978 in 1996 to 1,231 in the first half of this year. The percentage of women among the total newly employed increased from 11.1 percent to 19.3 percent.

However, as of the end of July this year, the percentage of women working for the same company they entered in 1996 being 37.0 percent was much lower than their male counterparts taking up 54.0 percent (excluding Samsung Electronics which did not disclose the number of men having left the company).

The titles of women who stayed in the top ten companies were deputy general managers (three percent), managers (58 percent), and assistant managers (39 percent). By contrast, as for men, the figures were nine percent, 58 percent and 33 percent for each of the titles. This shows how women handsomely lagged behind men in being promoted to titles of deputy general managers and above.

High numbers of women’s resignations could lower their economic status, possibly leading to lower competitiveness of companies due to decreases in the number of highly qualified women, according to experts.

In particular, at a time when the number of female college entrants takes up half the total number, and lower fertility and aging trends have gained severity, quite a lot of people argue that the highly qualified female workforce should be actively utilized at the national level.

Song Min-jung, a researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute said, “Companies are trying to make a difference by realizing how high retention rates of female workforce leads to higher competitiveness,” adding, “The over surplus of the college graduates looking for jobs slows the change as of now.”

Others point out that female workers should impose higher values on accumulating their career and be imbued with genuine professionalism.

Yoo Byung-kyu, a managing director at the Hyundai Research Institute said, “Women themselves should regard their work as nothing temporary. Once they are more active with their work, it would be a plus in having their abilities properly acknowledged.”

larosa@donga.com swon@donga.com