S. Korean banks dogged by thick glass ceiling: data
Published : 2013-03-07 10:49
Updated : 2013-03-07 10:49
About 50 percent of South Korean banks' employees are women, but female senior bankers account for only some 4 percent out of local banks' total executives, pointing to the sector's still thick glass ceiling, data showed Thursday.
Top lender Kookmin Bank and its other five rivals said the number of their combined employees stood at 81,234 as of end-February, out of which 48.8 percent bankers were women.
But the number of women at the senior level is marginal in the Korean banking sector. In the banking industry, there were 14 females at the senior level, equivalent to 4.4 percent out of the banks' total executives, officials said.
Kwon Seon-joo, a senior executive vice president of the Industrial Bank of Korea, is the only female banker who has risen to the C-suite among bankers from the domestic lenders.
This stood in contrast to foreign banks, including Citibank Korea Inc., the South Korean unit of U.S.-based Citigroup, which has three female senior executive vice presidents.
The Korean banking sector is well known for its conservative and male-chauvinist culture, affected by banks' business practices of pursuing risk aversion and Korea's once-dominant Confucian culture.
About 83 percent of female workers in Korea's financial industry were aged below their 30s in 2011 and women aged in their 40s and 50s or above stood at 14.8 percent and a meager 2.4 percent, respectively, according to the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training.
Experts said that more and more women in Korea, aided by education, are challenging to break the glass ceiling, but many Korean women are struggling to juggle work and home amid a lack of the society's and companies' understanding about working mothers, analysts say.
President Park Geun-hye became South Korea's first female to hold the country's top post in a December election, raising expectations that more supportive measures to promote gender equality will come out. (Yonhap News)