Treasury Secretary Yellen Speaks to Female South Korean Workers about Equality

The South Korean and United States economies would benefit from giving women more opportunities in the workforce, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told female entrepreneurs in Seoul, South Korea.

South Korean women are one of the most educated groups in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is a global forum of 37 market-based economies that develop and reinforce policy standards for economic sustainability. Working women in South Korea only occupy 20% of management roles and are more likely to be irregular workers (working on an as-needed basis). They also earn 31% less than men in South Korea, the highest wage gap in the OECD. However, if that labor gap is closed, the International Money Fund states that the real GDP of South Korea could be boosted by more than 7% by 2035.

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Yellen’s roundtable discussion with female entrepreneurs and business leaders took place at a vegan restaurant in Seoul. Participants included leaders from SoftBank Ventures Asia, Google, Finda, and 8percent.

Secretary Yellen also met with female economists from the Bank of Korea. The conversation was centered around how women can balance careers and families while progressing their careers in the tech and finance worlds. Many Korean women endure pressure from society to stay home and raise families, Yellen said, and their job choices should be honored just as much as their home lives.

After meeting with Yellen, Jenna Lee, Founder and Chief Executive of South Korea's first robo-adviser AIM, told Reuters that it's important to set a precedent for female workers, as women face more discrimination in the tech and finance sectors. She concluded that the opportunities given to Korean women don't just aid current generations, but they benefit future generations as well.