Play the men's game? Accommodating work and family in the workplace

Sook Yeon Won

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13 Scopus citations


This study aims to identify the reality of Korean working women in accommodating work with family responsibilities, taking account of workplace culture and practices. With changes in demography and in the ideology of male breadwinner/female caregiver model, issues regarding the reconciliation of work and family have become important in organizations that employ men and women workers. In this context, I ask whether such organizations tolerate the private affairs of their employees such as marriage, pregnancy and childrearing to intrude into the sphere of work. To what extent are such familial concerns addressed? This paper presents data collected through interviews with working men and women. Qualitative findings suggest that, apart from the dual-earner reality and the public discourse of gender equality in contemporary Korea, the room for acknowledging family responsibility in work organizations is extremely limited. The sphere of work is strongly characterized by the patriarchal dichotomy of public-private spheres and a gendered interpretation of women's paid work as well as organizational practices. It is therefore clear that the accommodation of work and family comprises a gendered pitfall for working mothers and their careers in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-35
Number of pages29
JournalAsian Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005


  • Dual-earner
  • Family
  • Organizational culture and practices
  • Private sphere
  • Public sphere
  • South Korea
  • Work


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