Gender discrimination has been present in South Korea for years and it is not going away anytime soon if people do not start recognizing the problem at hand. In the past, South Korea was run by a Confucianist philosophy. Confucianism created a mentality for women to raise the children and take care of the household, nothing more. Even though South Korea is now a democracy, the past mentality of women’s roles is deeply rooted in South Korea’s society. This mentality has created an idea that when women are married and have children, they should leave their jobs and let their husbands support the family. Women are judged when applying for jobs based on their physical appearances rather than qualifications; they are less likely to be working outside the house and are discriminated against in the hiring process. Women are paid much less than men and it is important that South Korea starts to pay attention to the inequality that women face. The prevalence of Confucianism ideals in South Korea’s current society has resulted in believing that women have a specific role, which has caused a massive wage gap and difficulty for women to be equal to men in all aspects of life.
Patriarchy is a major message in South Korea, women are not given the same opportunities as men and are brought up to believe that they only have one role in life. The past traditional ideologies have made it much more difficult for women to have a chance to have the same equal rights as men. When women get married and have children, many chose to leave their jobs and stay home because of patriarchy. It was found that one-third of firms reject female applicants who had the same qualifications as males, but they believe that only a man could do the job. Women are discriminated against and confucius ideologies have made people more hesitant about hiring females because they believe when they have children, they will quit their job because they are expected to be the main caretaker for the family, not making money. Women are brought up to believe that their main goal of having an education is to find a husband, not to use their knowledge to find a career. They are also taught that their “greatest attribute is physical beauty”, which creates an idea that women are only important based on their appearance, not for their qualifications as a person or who they are. In the job application process, women are judged much more than men; in many jobs, women need to have the capabilities of looking good, rather than being intelligent. In one case, there was an application for a job that wanted specific measurements in their physical appearance to be considered hiring; they wanted women to be over 5’4 and under 110 pounds. Men have it much easier than women in all aspects of applying and having a job, because of patriarchy in South Korea.
The idea that a woman could have power is rare for people in South Korea. People believed that South Korea’s past president Park Geun-Hye was not a woman because she was not married and did not have kids or that the only reason she became president was because of her father. They made up the idea that she was not a woman because she did not follow the traditional ideology that was based in South Korea. Men occupy 90% of legislators, managers, and senior officials; they take most of the political positions. Discrimination against unmarried women are sometimes encouraged by the Government. It is much more common to see women taking care of their children; when women are in the workplace they have a much harder time than men because of discrimination, but they also have a very large wage gap. There is a 37.5% wage gap between men and women among developed nations. South Korea ranks last in gender equality when it is compared to the other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. OECD is present to make policies to improve the well-being of people around the world, South Korea is struggling very much with discrimination against women. The World Economic Forum also realized a Gender Gap index in 2016 and South Korea was ranked 116 out of 144 countries. South Korea’s culture of patriarchy has affected fertility and marriage rates. In 2015, the marriage rate in South Korea was at its lowest point in 12 years and the birth rate was one of the lowest in the world. The future for South Korea does not look good; the Confucianist base and gender inequality is affecting the whole country; it is important that there are solutions made to clear up this major problem.
The South Korean government and Confucianism being rooted in their society has made it almost impossible for women to have equal rights as men. Women in power are doing what they can to try to reduce the wage gap and find equality, however, the wage gap has only reduced by around one percent in the past decade; that is too much time for such a little decrease. There is a mentality and fear that having too many female workers will negatively affect wage rates for men or the belief that women are less valuable workers, which has lessened the number of opportunities for women. This outlook on women needs to be changed by moving away from patriarchal and Confucianism culture and passing the anti-discrimination bill.
It will be difficult to change South Korea’s culture, but passing the anti-discrimination will help.
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