Yohap News Agency, Seoul, Korea

The educational authorities in Seoul are pushing for a gender quota system for elementary and secondary school teachers in a bid to prevent women from dominating the profession, officials said Wednesday.

Female teachers account for 83 percent of the teaching staff at elementary schools in Seoul, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education that is to propose the policy to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology later in the day. The imbalance has sparked concerns over a lack of a role models for male students and difficulty in managing administrative affairs.

“To resolve the gender imbalance among teachers, the law needs to be revised, which can be done by the Education Ministry,” said Kim Dong-chun, a school inspector at the metropolitan office, noting South Korea’s teacher recruitment law has no gender restrictions.

The dominance of female teachers in elementary and secondary schools is a global phenomenon that is also evident in the United States, Europe and China. In South Korea, the 1997 Asian financial crisis drove many women to employment at schools that guarantee stable jobs, month-long vacations and modest salaries, while a large number of their male counterparts took jobs in the medical, financial and information technology fields.

Matchmaking agencies call teachers the best female spouses along with pharmacists and high-level government employees, while judges, doctors and sports stars are ideal among men.

In an effort to limit the female prevalence in schools, education colleges have set a quota system to accept at least 25 percent to 40 percent of new students from male applicants.

On a national level, women account for 74 percent of teachers in elementary schools, 64 percent of those in middle schools and 42 percent of those in high schools.

The Education Ministry has yet to receive the proposal and did not decide about the quota system, said Park Jung-jae, a ministry spokesman.