Women Power in Officialdom (9); Higher Gov`t Posts to Be Allotted to Women

Article excerpt

An interesting letter was filed with the Presidential Commission on Women's Affairs (PCWA) by a female official at the regional education board in Chunchong-namdo last March. She claimed in her letter that she was discriminated against in her quest for a promotion, citing that a male colleague several years junior to her now become her direct boss by way of speedy promotions apparently due to his gender.

Upon inquiry into the complaints, PCWA discovered that all 18 male officials of the board were promoted up one notch, compared to only one out of 12 female officials between 1992-1996, although all 30 were previously promoted to the same rank simultaneously in 1985.

Upon becoming aware of possible disciplinary measures against those in charge of personnel affairs, the local education board hurriedly promoted all the remaining 11 women on July 1, giving important posts to six of them.

This is one of examples of the widespread gender discrimination against women even in public officialdom.

But a recent measure the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has put forward is expected to give more chances to women to be promoted if they are competitive.

The measure is a ``pooling system'' of mid-level women officials, under which women in the pool list will be given priority to vacant high posts at both central and provincial government agencies.

``We are intending to more than double the number of women's posts to 10 percent at grade-five level or higher, and those at the grade-six to 20 percent until 2005,''said an official in charge of women policies at the ministry.

Currently, the number of women officials ranking fifth grade or higher at both central and provincial government agencies totals 1,458, accounting for 4.4 percent. Female public servants at sixth grade in local governments account for 10.9 percent with 4,691.

Actually, the number of women public servants has steadily increased thanks to the quota system the government introduced in 1996. Currently, 29.7 percent of total government officials are women, slightly more than double the 1974 figure, which stood at 14.8 percent.

But as seen above, in posts of fifth grade or higher, the proportion of women is still very small.

For example, female officials at grade nine occupy about 30 percent of the total, while women have taken only one-tenth of that figure at grade five or higher.

The Presidential Commission on Women's Affairs is the top runner among central government agencies in hiring women with 76 percent, followed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare with 29. …