Asia Pacific Insight Report: Women and Technology


Korea

Many South Korean women want a better balance between work and home.

We spoke to 803 South Korean women to learn more about how they use the Internet to work, learn, communicate and get things done.

Many of our respondents value both their families and their careers. 56% are currently employed, and many want to return to work soon. But balancing work and family is a struggle, especially for mothers.

803
Interviewees
56
Current employed

The women we surveyed are also some of the most active users of the Internet of all the women we surveyed in Asia. They’re interested in more flexible working styles and the digital tools that enable this, even if a smaller percentage use them or believe their employers would provide them.

93% of the South Korean women we surveyed use the Internet every day.

In South Korea, going online is a part of daily life. 72% of our respondents have been online for ten or more years — a greater percentage than their counterparts in Japan or Australia.

They find the Internet useful for information, communication and completing daily tasks.

89
“Gives them access to any information they want.”
87
“Makes it easier to manage day to day household requirements like bills or shopping.”
76
“Makes it easier to communicate with people who are important to them.”

Many use the Internet for learning and professional development. 87% see a significant correlation between education and success.

“The Internet allows me to improve my working opportunities.”

Regional (Australia, Korea, Japan) average 61%

“The Internet has made it easier for me to further my education or learning.”

Regional (Australia, Korea, Japan) average 60%

The Korean women we spoke to are more likely to use the Internet for formal learning than their counterparts in Australia and Japan.

“The Internet is the best place to learn something formal — such as a course or type of study.”

Regional (Australia, Korea, Japan) average 54%

“The Internet is the best place to learn something informal — such as a recipe.”

Regional (Australia, Korea, Japan) average 82%
Yunsil
Yunsil
Programmer
Seoul

“It was very hard to figure out how to [code and use technologies], because there weren’t many resources out there. Now though, we have Google and YouTube, and people from all around the world will answer you.”

Just over half our respondents are currently employed. And many of those who are not employed want to return to work.

Work can be financially and emotionally rewarding. But women with families find it difficult to manage their pressing responsibilities in the office and at home.

Employement:

56
Currently employed
42
Currently not employed
62
of women not currently employed plan to return to work in the next 5 years

Why aren’t they employed now?

Have to take care of family

Can’t find employment right now

Have to prioritize household chores

Find work-life balance too tough

Don’t think it’s appropriate for them to work

No longer want to work

What would make them go back to work?

Sufficient pay

Interesting work

Contribution is respected and appreciated

Ability to work from home

Mothers face particular difficulty in returning to work.

Many of the mothers in our survey felt caught between career goals and family responsibilities, especially after having children. 83% are mainly or jointly responsible for chores at home, and 76% take care of young children during the day.

Some also feel South Korea’s working culture doesn’t support mothers, and limits how far they can climb.

84

“It’s difficult for mothers to remain in full-time employment.“

77% Australia
80% Japan
35

“Society supports working mothers.”

60% Australia
34% Japan
83

“It is easier for men to progress in the workplace than women.”

77% Australia
75% Japan

"When I was young I wanted to climb up the ladder, but there is a perception that women can’t do this job like men. And after you give birth, it is difficult to climb up this ladder like men.”

— Anonymous, aged 18-23

Despite this, more South Korean mothers we spoke to worked full-time than the women we surveyed in Japan and Australia.

Employment status among mothers:

44

Housewives

38% Australia
58% Japan
39

Employed full time

22% Australia
20% Japan
8

Employed part-time

28% Australia
18% Japan

The women we spoke to value both their professional ambitions and their family lives. But they’re conflicted about what their primary role should be.

AGREE
DISAGREE

“The financial benefits of being a working mother outweigh the potential negatives.”

“Being a working woman means neglecting your family.”

84

“It is important for women to have a role outside of the home.”

86% Australia
71% Japan
65

“A woman’s biggest contribution to society is in the home.”

44% Australia
34% Japan
Yunsil
Yunsil
Programmer
Seoul

“As long as you have passion and motivation for whatever you’re doing, and for your career, I think that will still get you going.”

Mothers say flexible workplaces could make it easier to cope with their dual responsibilities.

Working from home, freelance or part-time could be ideal for mothers who want to keep working. Many of the women we spoke to are optimistic about this.

70

“"I believe work will be more flexible in the future, with people able to work part-time or from home.”

59% Australia
42% Japan
65

“I am interested in companies that actively support work-life balance:”

Though many know about flexible working technologies, interest and usage levels are mixed — particularly for video-conferencing and working from home.

Flexible work arrangements, such as working part time or from home:

52% Aware of existence

37% Currently working this way

73% Interested in it

44% Think employers would be interested

Having access to work related emails outside of the workplace:

85% Aware of existence

60% Currently working this way

51% Interested in it

58% Think employers would be interested

Using file sharing technology to access work documents from home:

86% Aware of existence

46% Currently working this way

50% Interested in it

44% Think employers would be interested

Using video calls to have meetings:

81% Aware of existence

11% Currently working this way

27% Interested in it

30% Think employers would be interested

Yewon
Yewon
Journalist
Seoul

“When I was in the States…I always had women reporters or professors around me...having a role model really helps, whether it’s just at a local level or on a global level.”

Developing a support system for working mothers is crucial.

Some of the women we interviewed expressed a desire for a community to discuss the issues they faced; be it at the workplace, working freelance, or balancing their home and work lives.

This could enable them to connect with like-minded women, keep up with their male peers, and increase access to entrepreneurial opportunities and support for mothers who want to return to work.

Companies could also use technologies like video-conferencing to make working arrangements more flexible and provide better work-life balance for working mothers.

Yewon
Yewon
Journalist
Seoul

“Women will be able to work in a way that supports their business. Women will be able to get connected to each other and make the world a better, safer place.”