South Korean employers will no longer be able to ask female job applicants if they plan on continuing to work after they marry, according to a mandate from the country’s Ministry of Employment and Labor. Gender discrimination in the workplace is already outlawed in South Korea, but the ministry plans to step up its enforcement of the regulations following sustained complaints from jobseekers who said they are asked questions in interviews that don’t directly relate to the job descriptions, the Korea Times reported.
Those who have complained have said they are asked during job interviews about their weight, marriage plans and plans to have children. The announcement to increase enforcement against gender discrimination is aimed primarily at larger businesses and franchises.
"Compared to the past, the number of cases is decreasing where recruitment notices directly demand specific gender or specific physical conditions or ask about marital status," a ministry official told the Korea Times. "But there still are many cases where interviewers ask applicants about their marriage plans or select only applicants with specific physical conditions for short-term or part-time positions."
A company could face penalties of up to $4,400 if they are found to discriminate based on gender, according to the Korea Herald. Some Korean employers' job postings have sought “good looking” employees.
Gender discrimination in the workplace is widespread in South Korea. Being a working woman is considerably harder than being a working man in the country, which has one of the strongest glass ceilings globally, according to the Diplomat, a Tokyo-based magazine.
— Women's News (@WomenWorldNews1) October 29, 2015
During her campaign, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she promised to help working women balance their professional lives with their private lives raising children. Some hoped that her being elected to president would help bring about more change for women in the workplace, according to the Diplomat.