Date of Graduation

Fall 8-1-2021

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster


The status of women globally, though improved in recent decades, remains an unresolved issue. The labor market, in which women must contend with the glass ceiling phenomenon, is an indicative microcosmos of a larger issue—the persistence of discriminatory attitudes toward women. The case is even more profound in East Asian contexts, such as South Korea. The existing literature is limited and focuses on either specific aspects of the glass ceiling or particular industries in Korea. This paper explores the origins and interconnected causes of the glass ceiling in Korea, which include Confucian philosophy and values. Moreover, by analyzing testimonials of Korean female professionals, this analysis reveals the real-life and psychological effects of the glass ceiling and various mechanisms these women utilize to cope with or fight against this invisible barrier in the workplace. One of the most substantial issues these women face is the binary choice they are forced to make: between having a career and having a family. Looking towards a solution, this research also discusses possible ways to shatter the glass ceiling. In exploring the difficult challenges that Korean women contend within the workplace, this research hopes to open up further dialogue and bring more attention to this pressing issue.