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Female Executives in South Korea

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‘Women have to harness their power - its absolutely true. It's just learning not to take the first no. And if you can't go straight ahead, you go around the corner.’ Cher, Actress and Singer
 
In South Korea, only 10% of Politicians are female, and 50% of women within the country work. Interestingly, in this seemingly male dominated professional world, it seems very possible that a female candidate could potentially win the next election. Park Geun-hye, the daughter of an ex-political leader is being tipped as the favorite to win the elections in December 2012.
 
Park Geun-hye has a myriad of leadership experience, and a strong political background, and her election could mark a change in South Korea’s conservative attitude to powerful female figures however, The Economist suggests that , ‘Her gender (will not) necessarily carry much weight with female voters. Though the Park family brand resonates with older conservatives, the young women who would like to see the end of male rule tend to be more left-leaning.’ Although Park will have support from the younger generation of female voters, a large majority of Korean women will not be supporting a move towards a female leader. Interestingly, this does not appear to be due to policy, but rather a lack of trust from the older generation of female voters.
 
In the same way, female executives across Asia have indicated have experienced a lack of support from female colleagues when climbing the career ladder. Equally, this does not appear to be due to female executives demonstrating a lack of experience or suitability for corporate promotions, but more often women within the workplace find it more difficult to find a mentor which they can relate to, or there is already an existing lack of female executives within a company. Corporations, like political affairs can be resistant to change.
 
The answer appears to be simple, elections and promotions should be based on merit and suitability, and there should be no prejudice when deciding on whether someone is suitable for a role. Hopefully, within the coming years we will start to see more female executives on boards and within politics, because government and corporations should reflect the society we live in, not just for the sake of equality, but also to drive forward innovation and advancement.
 
This article was written by Helen Langley of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

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