Can pandemic telework help boost women's careers in Japan and South Korea? -- Jan 06
Could COVID-19 level the playing field for women workers in Japan and South Korea, countries known for a rigid corporate culture?

COVID-19 could be a tipping point in the push to retain more women in the workforce in Japan and South Korea and for them to have families with new flexible work arrangements expected to stay, according to researchers and recruiters.

The pandemic has disproportionately hit women’s careers across the globe, with studies finding they are more likely to work in sectors badly impacted by COVID-19 and are picking up a heavier load of unpaid childcare and chores than men.

But in Japan and South Korea, where employees are often under pressure to work long hours in the office with reports of death by overwork, more flexible working could make women rethink leaving jobs to start a family.

“If women are given such choice (of flexible working), they will likely utilise the opportunity,” said Kyoko Nagano, a Japanese mother-of-two who has worked in local firms and now runs her own businesses in education and tourism.

“There will be positive impacts. Women will feel safer to have families,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Tokyo.

Japan and South Korea have been pushing for more women to stay in the workforce in recent years as the two Asian nations struggle with a fast-ageing population and low birth rates.

But the gender gap in the workplace remains a challenge in both countries which lag other advanced economies.

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