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Seventy percent of women say their workplace is unfriendly: survey

All News 16:42 July 18, 2008

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- Nearly 70 percent of South Korean women workers feel their workplace environment is "unfriendly" to them, a survey showed Friday, a perception disputed by more than half of their male colleagues.

The email survey by Job Korea, a leading recruiting agency, showed that 69.2 percent of 240 female respondents said their country's corporate culture is far from conducive to their performance, mainly citing difficulty in raising children while pursuing their professional careers.

The survey, which had a 3.4 percent margin of error, also said that 54.9 percent of 585 male workers believe women were just as free to continue their jobs because traditional barriers blocking their promotion have been "removed" and maternity leave is now widely available.

"Recently, many women have begun participating in the workforce, and there are many families in which both the husband and the wife are employed," Byun Ji-sung, a Job Korea spokesman, told Yonhap. "But there is little systematic approach or cultural support for women who have to look after their kids while working."

A male-oriented culture has long prevailed in South Korea's business arena, experts say, while women have often been pressured into leaving work to become housewives after getting married or having a child.

But the sentiment has largely improved over the years with increased legal measures and social campaigns to encourage women to remain in the workforce, a key condition of boosting the world's 13th-largest economy.

The survey pointed out that 52.6 percent of women wish for flexible work hours so they may more easily look after their children, and 50.1 percent said the management of their company should encourage working mothers to take the one-year maternity leave to which they are legally entitled.

"Highly-educated female workers have contributed to the growth of companies and the country's economic development," Kim Hwa-soo, head of Job Korea, said in a statement released by the company, "Company heads should work hard to improve the environment so that women can concentrate better on work."

brk@yna.co.kr
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