A Focus Group Study on Career Aspirations of Female College Students in South Korea

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career aspirations
working motherhood
social capital
Korean education system
Gender and Sexuality
Organizational Behavior and Theory
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The purpose of this paper is to identify interesting themes among college students attending Seoul National University and Yonsei University about their thoughts on working motherhood and its associated institutional and societal norms. The aim of this thesis is not to explain a nationwide phenomenon nor to make any generalizations; rather the thesis seeks to capture the sentiments and experiences of this topic on an individual level. The interviews reveal that companies in Korea are squandering the opportunity to employ a certain talent pool because female college students already classifying themselves in binary terms when it comes to their career aspirations. This thesis will advance the present literature about working motherhood in Korea by expanding beyond the postgraduate adult women population (who are often mothers). Instead, the paper focuses on college female students through an organizational theory perspective such as career anchors. Through this framework, this thesis demonstrates that the fixed categorizations of female college students’ career aspirations are not coming from institutional norms, nor societal Confucian norms, but the individual’s own mother. This draws critical attention because regardless of institutional actions, their policies have limited impact as they apply to a self-selecting group of female workers who have already chosen to defend their career. This calls into attention the importance of setting egalitarian career expectations earlier in the education system and at home.

Tiantian Yang
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