Cho Yoon-sun, Minister of Gender Equality and Family, said women don’t have to necessarily “lean in,” as Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg advocates in her own book, to achieve a successful life. Noting that she hasn’t finished reading Ms. Sandberg’s career advice book for women, Ms. Cho, a former lawyer turned government official who has two daughters, emphasized the need to look at individual circumstances and experiences when it comes to work-life balance. The world we are living in right now is too focused on city life. If you look, there are many different lives out there — women living in rural areas or fishing villages or women working in the arts and even start-up companies. So it is not right to come up with a monolithic policy. We need to tailor-make polices that can accommodate different needs of women in different areas. In other words, we need to make a policy that is very precise and detailed like we do needlework, rather than having a big policy and try to cover them all. When I was working, I always wondered “should I focus more on child-rearing?” I have two daughters. But then, I thought, “if I quit my job which I tried so hard to get in order to raise my children, and if this repeats for my children when they become a mom, why should women work so hard to get a good education in the first place?” So I decided to pursue my career even harder. My solution was to get as much help as possible from others. I think the first 10 years [after you have a baby] is hard. This period is the busiest and hardest but if you overcome this period, you have enough time for yourself and can have a better chance of developing yourself. I hope many women can achieve this as well. Ms. Cho: There used to be many entrance barriers for Korean women. On the economic growth side, we need to encourage women’s participation. On the political side, we need to break the glass ceiling. We face a tremendous challenge to produce tangible outcomes. It is not like you can boost your academic scores overnight. But we are trying hard to move for a better future. Part of the responsibility rests on my shoulder.
Korea reviews-The Korean Take on ‘Leaning In’