Most South Koreans want women to keep working after childbirth

To address workplace gender inequality, most South Koreans support the return of women to the workforce after childbirth.
By: | May 26, 2022

This was according to a survey by the Chosun Ilbo and the Seoul National University Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, which also revealed that South Korea’s actual birth rate stands at just 0.81 child per woman.

A major reason is that women’s careers are often cut short if they have a child, with 72.2% saying childbirth and childcare are the main reasons women’s careers are snuffed out. 

Six out of 10 female respondents in their 20s and 30s said having children would get in the way of accomplishing their professional goals.

If women are effectively forced to quit their jobs after childbirth, gender inequality in employment and wages cannot be addressed. According to the Federation of Korean Industries, around 180,000 women work for South Korea’s top 100 businesses, which is less than one-third of the number of men. 

The average annual wage male workers in those companies make was 92 million won (US$ 72,680) last year, compared to 63 million won (US$49,770) for women, while men worked 13.1 years on average and women just 9.6 years.

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Kim Nan-joo at the Korean Women’s Development Institute said, “Companies tend to avoid hiring women because they either take maternity leave or quit due to childbirth, and this prevents women from climbing further up the corporate ladder. Unless this problem is resolved, the low birthrate, hiring inequality and wage gap will only worsen.”   

The survey polled about 1,700 people over 16 years old.