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National Assembly staffers call for gender parity in Yeouido

Women who work at the National Assembly are holding a monthlong campaign to promote gender equality within the legislative arm of the government.

According to National Assembly Feminists, a feminist group composed of female National Assembly staffers, 38.2 percent of all staffers at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, were women as of Aug. 1. 

The National Assembly building in Yeouido, Seoul (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
The National Assembly building in Yeouido, Seoul (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

While women made up 52.3 percent of interns and 63.3 percent of grade 9 staffers -- the lowest-ranked civil servants -- they accounted for only 8.6 percent of grade 4 staffers, the highest rank for a National Assembly staffer.

The proportion of women decreased as the ranks rose. Women comprised 60.5 percent of grade 8 Assembly staffers, 37.4 percent of grade 7 staffers, 26.7 percent of grade 6 and 19.9 percent of grade 5.

“Women make up over half of lower-ranked staffer positions and take on largely peripheral jobs such as serving coffee to guests, furnishing office supplies, etc., with little chance for a promotion,” an activist at the group said.

“National Assembly staffers start with internships and make their way up, but it’s very difficult and unusual for women to get promoted to the higher ranks,” she said.

In June, the group campaigned against having only women serve coffee.

“While there are also (lower-grade) male staffers, the job of serving coffee and tending the office kitchen would almost always fall on the women,” the group said, pointing out that “the lawmaking body should lead in achieving a gender-equal workplace.”

National Assembly Feminists was formed a year ago on Aug. 16, 2018, two days after the first sexual assault hearing for former Gov. Ahn Hee-jung of South Chungcheong Province. Ahn, a onetime presidential hopeful, was expelled from the Democratic Party in March last year after he admitted to some of the allegations raised by his secretary, the complainant in the case.

By Kim Arin (