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Korea has far fewer female managers than OECD peers

March 8, 2023 - 17:50 By Kim So-yeon
(Free Vector)

South Korea ranked second to last in terms of the percent of women in management positions among 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to OECD statistics released Wednesday.

The OECD said Korea has reported steady progress in elevating women leaders but still has a long way to go.

The percentage of female managers in Korea was 16.3 percent as of 2021, less than half the OECD average of 33.7 percent. Japan with 13.2 percent was the only country that fell behind Korea in terms of the share of females in management positions.

Korea's figure has risen somewhat compared to in 2011 when female managers amounted to just 10.1 percent, less than one-third of the then OECD average of 31.2 percent.

While the OECD average has risen 2.5 percentage points over the past 10 years, Korea’s share increased 6.2 percentage points.

Still, Korea is one of the three countries with less than 20 percent women in management roles, along with Japan and Turkey (the latter with 18.2 percent).

The OECD defines “female managers” as females employed in management positions, including corporate executives, high-ranking government officials, lawmakers, university presidents and school principals.

Latvia topped the list with 45.9 percent, followed by Sweden (43.0 percent), Poland (43.0 percent), the US (41.4 percent) and Estonia (41.2 percent).

According to separate data from Statistics Korea, the recent rise in the share of female managers in Korea is partially due to a temporary dip in the percent of male managers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, the total number of employees classified as “managers” was 436,000. Of them, women made up 14.7 percent, down 1.47 percent from the previous year.

On the other hand, the number of male managers decreased gradually from 2019 to 2021, but bounced back in 2022 to reach 373,000, a 13.4 percent jump year-on-year.