2007年03月02日

Opening the Policy Window: In Case of the WISE Policy in Korea

Opening the Policy Window: In Case of the WISE Policy in Korea



Eunkyoung Lee

Chonbuk National University, Korea


This presentation is to introduce the shaping process, the main rationale and strategies of the WISE poilicy in Korea. The WISE policy stands for the whole poilcy scheme to support women in S&T, consisting of many individual programs. Though Korea is still a male-dominated society and people recognize S&T as meritocratic, social contexts of S&T and women's life have been changing. Leading women in S&T and some policy makers made use of the social changes to implement the idea to support women in S&T. Their efforts resulted in making legal basis of the WISE policy and setting a master plan for women in S&T.
The spirit of the WISE policy is to assist women to develop careers in S&T for life time. It covers from the informal S&T education for girls through higher education and early stage of S&T careers to retraining for the reentry into S&T after child care. It also has some individual programs to get rid of social obstacles of women in S&T and to promote women's participation; for example, women-only research funds, 10-15% quota of women for new employment of public research institutions, and a central agency, the NIS-WIST center.
Around 2000, the first wave of the WISE policy came. Several new programs were initiated for women in S&T like mentoring for girls and women-only R&D funds. This is the 1st wave. Efforts of leading women sicnetists and engineers, rapid growth of women in S&T, social democratization through 1990 and rising feminist movement had impacts on the birth of them. The role of leaders of women in S&T were important because they knew where to go, whom to contact with and in what terms to ask their requests. However, those programs were accidental and individual, not integrated into the whole scheme of the national S&T policy.
It was about the year 2001 when a policy window in S&T was open, so called the discourse on „crisis of S&T„ It was kept though years, making the whole society be be interested in S&T. One of the concerns was the lack of manpower in S&T in near future due to the avoidance of S&T among youngsters. Women scientists and engineers argued that women are surly an alternative group and persuaded policy makers to establish more effective and organized policies.
The arguements were not new. However, the rationale of them was changed from inequalities of women in S&T to a potential pool of S&T workforce. It worked in the new situation dominated by the discourse. A new law was enacted at the end of 2002, and new programs, a new organization, and other measurements were devised and integrated into the Basic Plan for Women in S&T(2004-2008). I think this is the 2nd wave of the WISE policy of Korea.
Considering its short history, it is surely premature to evaluate the WISE policy as a whole. In some sense, we can say that its existance itself has great implication of women in S&T. For real good result, however, the 2nd basic plan should be improved. It is the time to produce careful evaluation and impact analyses of the policy for it.

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