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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Smoking and High Salaries, for MEN?

One week ago my adult class of 2 discussed feminism/ the workforce in Korea.

The Ajou University student feels equal to her male classmates, but the business woman feels otherwise. For one thing, Korean men automatically earn a higher salary than women in the same starting position because their two years of military service is considered experience.

There was an article in the Korea Times today about female employees at big companies paid 22.2 million won ($23,845) less a year on average than their male colleagues.

My student is outnumbered as the only woman in sales and she believes she has less opportunities for travel and advancement than her male colleagues. In her words, "I'd say it takes a Korean woman 5 years to get the same promotion a man could get in 2."

There's still the perception in Korea that men have to provide for their families. I have met a few women who say they will quit to be a housewife when they marry, but they are becoming a minority.

The woman told me the story of another female who entered the company: a smoker. Even on sunny days in Korea, womens' bathroom stalls are filled with stale smoke. It's considered an undesirable habit, something a "bad girl" would do. (I will discuss this 'bad girl', ' bad boy' phenomena soon.)

The woman was forced to quit her job due to gossip concerning her unladylike addiction. Meanwhile... the men blew smoke and counted their bills outside?

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