Emanuel Pastreich is a young professor at Humanitas College, Kyung Hee University in Korea who has written two books about the reception of Chinese vernacular narrative in Korea and Japan in the 17th and 18th centuries. He has also been consulted by several Korean governmental bodies and was the chief editor of “Dynamic Korea”, an online paper published by the Korean government. In 2007 he founded a new think tank called the Asia Institute in Daejon, the science belt of Korea.
Emanuel advocates a more rigorous environmental policy for Korea and his views touch on the areas of bioscience, technology convergence and global economy policy.
In 2011, he published three new books: The Novels of Park Jiwon and The Observable Mundane (Seoul National University Press), as well as Life is a Matter of Direction, not Speed. Professor Pastreich (CirclesAndSquares.asia) has published numerous articles in the Korean media and Korea Business Central is proud to have him on-board as a 2011 contributor to the New Korea Economic Slice.
November 29, 2011
Make the next President of KAIST a Woman!
By Dr. Emanuel Pastreich, Professor at Humanitas College, Kyung Hee University
KAIST plays a critical role in Korea as a trend setter for the nation in the sciences. Innovations at KAIST quickly become innovations throughout Korea. It was a tremendous breakthrough when Professor Robert Laughlin of Stanford was appointed president of KAIST, bringing a new international emphasis to the institution. KAIST set a precedent through that appointment for hiring foreign faculty that impacted the entire nation. So also the decision by President Suh Nampyo of KAIST to employ English as the primary language of instruction has also done much to increase KAIST's global profile and sparked a serious discussion about the use of English at the majority of universities in Korea.
As we consider who might serve as the next president of KAIST after Professor Suh Nampyo, it is important to keep in mind the symbolic value of that role in reaffirming KAIST’s role as a leading institution in Korea, and the world. I would suggest that, if at all possible, we should appoint a woman as the next president of KAIST.
Korean girls display remarkable aptitude in academics through high school, and an increasing number are being trained in the sciences at the university. Nevertheless, they continue to face many challenges in the work place. A report of the U.K.-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2010 placed Korea at 35th in a “Women's Economic Opportunity Index” among 113 surveyed countries, but placed it at 104 in terms of women’s legal and social status. The role of women in Korea is increasing rapidly, but with few in science and technology, the distribution of women cross the range of careers is skewed.
The problem is acute. Korea produces some excellent women scientists today. But the numbers of women scientists are still far too small. Although Korea needs the perspectives of women in science and technology desperately, especially as scientific research is increasingly concerned with such human issues as the environment, aging and disease, most women do not find the future awaiting them in science attractive because the landscape is distinctly lacking in women leaders.
Oddly, Korea faces the possibility that, with Ms. Park Geun Hye considering a run for the top office, there could be a woman as president of Korea even though there are no women as generals, presidents of major research institutes or heads of central ministries. Oddly, Korea encourages young girls to study as hard in school as boys but then does not offer the opportunities appropriate later in life.
Appointing a woman as President of KAIST will send a clear message to the Korean people that women will play a central role in the future of science and technology in Korea. That appointment will give hope to girls that there is a future for them in science and it will prove to the world that Korea intends to be a true leader in technologies, taking the necessary step forwards. MIT has already taken that step with the appointment of Professor Susan Hockfield as president. As women play an increasingly important role in Asia as a whole, KAIST can make Korea's leadership role manifest.
Yes, I agree to your opinion if she is suited to the job!!
-if she is suited to the job!!-
But thats the tricky part of the discussion don´t you think? Who is gonna decide when a woman is suited for the job?
There are probably one hundred women who are qualified to be president of KAIST, maybe more. If none of them are selected, it will not be because they were not qualified. It will because of the domination of patterns of thinking that are totally inappropriate to this age.
The selection of a president for a university like KAIST is by its very nature symbolic and political. It is not about picking a suitable person, but rather a direction, an emphasis, a future.
What were the priorities for hiring of the last two presidents? I would say that if you explicitly declared that the next president should be a woman, that would be a far more rational, practical and thoughtful priority than those advanced in the last two hirings!
Hire a Nobel Prize winner? Is that the best way to select a president for a university?
I assume you don't mean that hiring a Nobel Prize winner is the best approach. Korea's never had such a winner and Koreans are quite fixated on how they are going to change that.
This is great. The lack of opportunities for women at management, particularly senior management levels, is something that should change. I remember a former student who worked at CitiBank telling me how surprised he was when he went to Hong Kong and found women at senior levels and in other management roles.
One reason women may prefer not to take on those positions is because many women quit their jobs once they have kids. Not everyone, I know, but the lack of women in management is certainly influenced by culture to a certain degree.
If Ms. Park Geun Hye becomes president, then hopefully more young women and girls will look to her for inspiration.
I agree with Enmanuel in terms of direction, future and line to be drawn in order to envision the future o an important University as KAIST is. Although, in my opinion, women ( in the average) has several better characteristics than men, here the problem is different: what is the next vision of KAIST? What is the role that KAIST would have in the Korean Society and in the scientific World (KAIST is important also in the world , 47th or 50th place on the best 100 top universities, if I remember well) ?
The example of the professor coming from Stanford represented the clear direction of let a University become more international ....nowadays what do they want?
The nobel prize.mmmm frankly I don't know but maybe could be useful in terms of approach for nurturing a new generation that could dream to receive a Nobel Prize.
In my opinion what could be suitable should be a person able to embrace the future vision of the KAIST without caring about of the sex.I tell this because, notwithstanding the bad position about the role of the women in the society, I think that knowledge, skills and great capability should rule the advance and not a skirt or a pant.
P.S I like the women that are manager are better in some sense of men!!
Not sure you are aware, DGIST (Daegu-Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology) had a female President, Ms. In-Seon Lee for 4 years (2007-2011).
And ICT University initially established independently (but then absorbed a few years ago under a political bun fight into KAIST (I recall)) was also headed by female former National Assembly member Huh Unna.
Lets throw a wooden stick in the fire:
I personally do not believe in a -positive-discrimination of women to obtain top positions in business. Working in a male dominated environment for so many years I often has seen that many women do NOT want to take the top-dog position. O yes, they do want the title and they do want the big payment BUT they often do not want to take certain risks which comes with the position. As the CEO you will be kicked every single day in office I can tell you. And women most of the time do not want that. They often goes for the harmony model.....and as a CEO you cannot cook dinner which suits every hungry mouth at your dinner table.
The biggest challenge are not the men but the women its self. I would never be able to succeed in life if I didn´t had all those wonderful men around me. They encouraged me from my very first job while still attending the university to go for my goals in life. They provided me a platform and shared with me their knowledge. And believe me, dutch people are conservative as koreans even they want you to let believe something else. My first independent biz-deal with Korea i did it with korean MEN!
Women are the biggest enemy of themselves. They often try to convict those women who wants to obtain the topjob. Those women are seen as: 1) Bad mothers 2) Career bitches 3) Not feminine.
To come back on KAIST: It would be wonderful if a woman would be chosen. But it have to be one who does understand that the job comes along with certain risks as usual in business(just like it is for men too). From zero to hero and vica versa.
Oh yeah! Let's play 'how else can we blame the women' game. I love that one.
I wouldn't wish that post on my worst enemy. Have you seen the track record? Better abolish the institution and start again.