South korean women leaders’ struggles for a work and family balance

Yonjoo Cho, Namhee Kim, Mimi Miyoung Lee, Jae Hoon Lim, Heeyoung Han, Hye Young Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of women in leadership in Korea and to identify challenges and opportunities that they face in the process of balancing work and family life and developing leadership as women in the uniquely challenging Korean workplace where they face organizational and cultural constraints. Critical to this investigation was the understanding of concepts frequently represented in the previous literature about women in leadership: Work–family life balance, women’s leadership development, and the cultural context. In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 women leaders selected through a purposeful and snowball sampling method. A thematic analysis of the interview data generated six themes including: (a) commitment to work, (b) struggles for a balance, (c) defining success, (d) gender identity, (e) being a role model, and (f) need for support. Based on the findings, we provide implications for research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-537
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • South Korea
  • Women in leadership
  • Work and family balance


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