The competitive nature of job hunting can be stressful for anyone, but there’s an especially trying aspect of looking for employment that women often face in Japan. While social norms are gradually changing, women still take on the majority of child rearing and other domestic duties in Japanese households, and it’s not unheard of for some to leave the workforce entirely after getting married or having children.
So although more Japanese women than ever before are continuing to work throughout adulthood, even after marriage or childbirth (which are also two things many Japanese women are choosing to pass on altogether), many companies are still leery of hiring female applicants, especially for high-ranking, high-responsibility openings. Working less prestigious positions, though, results in a less confidence-inspiring resume, and 35-year-old Japanese professional, wife, mother, and Twitter user @yomimama0908 has compiled a frustrating list of the myriad, though equally frustrating, reactions she feels women should brace for when applying for jobs at various ages in Japan.
Things women hear when trying to change jobs:
Age 23-26: “You don’t have enough professional experience for this position.”
Age 27-30: “So, are you married? Hmm…so will you be taking maternity leave soon?”
Age 31-35: “Ah, so you have young children. Are they still little? I see…”
Age 36 and above: “You’re already this old, but you don’t have much work experience, so we can’t really offer you a position…”
“So just what age are you supposed to look for a new job at?” asks @yomimama0908 in exasperation. “Companies’ way of thinking is entirely too narrow-minded,” she concludes, and many online commenters agreed with her. “When you go to an interview, they ask way more about your kids than they do about you,” shared one commenter. “And if you’re in your 50s, they’ll ask ‘Is you eyesight OK? At your last physical, did the doctor find any medical problems?’” added another.
Making things especially difficult is that Japan has no nationwide law against asking job-seekers how old they are, and most application forms require your birthdate as a matter of course, lumping a blank space for it right next to other standardly requested information as your name, email/phone contact information, and mailing address.
If there’s a sliver of hope for those facing the reactions that @yomimama0908 has run into, it’s that at least some Japanese politicians have begun taking the stance that questions about age, marital aspirations, and baby-making plans shouldn’t be asked during a job interview. But again, that’s still not a national law, and it’s likely women will continue to receive such queries, even as @yomimama0908 says she hopes that by the time her currently 3-year-old son joins the workforce, his female coworkers will no longer have to deal with the frustrations she lays out in her tweet.
Source: Twitter/@yomimama0908 via Hachima Kiko
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