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Shiseido exec fights for gender equality in Japan

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By Tomoko Hosaka

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About 50% of the population are Female, most of whom have higher education than Males., ratio wise. They "generally" are better qualified and posses a bigger range of skills, again "Generally" as it is Japan and boys are best?...that's working so well! Retarding the opportunities for capable people to excel, so Samurai, and where are they?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan needs more companies like this - and more women in charge like her. One thing to note, she has no kids. Seems to picked career over kids which is fine but a shame if she ever wanted to have them. Japan needs women like her to be mothers and set a good example for both sons and daughters. A great model for Japanese women and companies!! Would like to see her more often and raising awareness and making the old ossans in charge actually do something about the issues here with working women and mothers. Something needs to be done and am glad to hear there actually is one company leading the way.

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tmarie said: One thing to note, she has no kids. Seems to picked career over kids.....

The article said: She stayed for more than three decades, climbing up the ministry’s ranks while raising two daughters.

two daughters = no kids?

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if Japan’s female employment rate—around 60%—rises 20 percentage points to match that of males, it would add 8.2 million people to the labor force and boost gross domestic product by as much as 15%.

Or they could employ the 30% of new university grads who still haven't found employment. Where are these 20% extra jobs going to come from?

As for educated women being 'wasted' at home; my Mum, who wasn't highly educated and felt it keenly, used to say, 'Educate a boy, and you educate a worker; educate a girl, and you educate a family'. Raising a family is NOT a waste of a woman's time or education; it's the single most important job she will ever do.

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Edu, right you are!! My mistakes! This women gets more respect than before - and that was damn high already!!

Cleo, working women create jobs - day care, babysitting, having money to spend on shopping, lunches at work... They have more disposable income and use it which means the economy is moving more. A large percentage of a working mom's money goes towards their kids educations so more jukus, more clubs, more swimming lessons, better food gets bought... Win/win for everyone.

Cleo, spending money on a uni degree for someone who won't use it is a waste in my opinion - male or female Your mom probably said such a thing with the expectations that you would work - and most women in the west with a uni degree does. The same can't be said here - at least not for FT work. I personally don't see the point of a uni education for a women if her whole ambition is to stay at home with the kids. Sewing, cooking, child rearing, early childhood education.. would be better money spent I think. It is an education and one that would help them with their path in life but would drop the whole "uni educated women" issue. Nothing wrong with wanting to stay at home with your kids but if you haven't a clue how to do anything while stating it is your goal in life...

I think spending a ton of money of a uni degree is wasted. Uni degrees are basically the new high school diploma. Anyone can get one these days, not everyone deserves to have one - and in some cases, be "given" it because mom and dad paid the tuition. Nothing wrong with learning a skill but the thing is, most people think they are above it these days. Shortage of plumbers and the like in many countries now because for some reason, people seem to think they are above such a job. Hence, a high rate of unemployed unis grads but really, should they have gone in the first place??

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Kimie Iwata is an extraordinary woman, and a positive role model for working women.

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Kimie Iwata is an extraordinary woman, and a positive role model for working women.

positive model of women working in 'cosmetics' business.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The best thing for a kid is to have his/her mom at home.

My mom made an effort to stay at home and take care of me instead of abandoning me with strangers at a daycare and I respect and love her for it.

Forget what the corporations and governments say, do what's best for your kids. Stay at home, teach them, show them love and cook them warm meals.

They will love you for it.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

On the one hand, you have people like this who fight for gender equality. On the other hand, you have the vast number of J-gals whose dreams is to find a well earning husband so they don't have to work.

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Cleo, spending money on a uni degree for someone who won't use it is a waste in my opinion

Educating oneself is never a waste. Do you really want children raised by uneducated women?

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@Cleo "Raising a family is NOT a waste of a woman's time or education; it's the single most important job she will ever do."

It's disappointing to still see educated women parroting the idea that a woman's life task is to raise a family. You devalue the work and aspirations of millions of hard-working women as well as relegate fathers to a marginal role in family life.

Politicians should be legislating to create an environment that allows both fathers and mothers to enjoy career and family life, and society should start to embrace women in key business and political positions as well as a more active role for fathers with the family. And to help with this we need to start rejecting the idea more strongly that men should go to the office and women should stay at home.

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The best thing for a kid is to have his/her mom at home. No, it isn't. The best thing for a kid is to have a happy family. If mom doesn't want to stay home and is forced to, I can promise you it isn't what is best for the kids.

Himajin, did you read my post? I suggested other forms of education rather than just university.

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Himajin, you are right that "educating oneself is never a waste".

However, where I teach (an all-girls university), that is not happening. The girls are NOT educating themselves. They are spending their parents' money. And at the end of 4 years and 6 million yen, their ambition is to find a husband to take care of them (at least in 80% of the cases).

I also have countless male coworkers who found that their wives, who had all been working before marriage, suddenly started to slack off after. Taught less classes, dropped to a part time work schedule, etc. Not due to pregnancy, increased load of housework, etc. Just the assumption that they would soon join the ranks of 'shufu-dom' and start playing the role of happy housewife.

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40 % of the country elderly by 2050?... Japan, my JP friend is right!... You are in trouble!!!

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A large percentage of a working mom's money goes towards their kids educations so more jukus, more clubs, more swimming lessons, better food gets bought...

I don't see more jukus as a good thing. (If the schools do their job, there's no need for extra schooling, if kids need help with their homework, Mum and Dad should be there to give it) Clubs and swimming lessons, if it's what the kid wants, fine - if it's to keep the kid out of the way and occupied while Mum does her career thing, not so good. As for food...not sure it's necessarily better. More expensive maybe, which in terms of the economy might be a good thing; but if Mum and Dad are both busy, it's more likely to be 'quick and easy convenience food' than 'better food'.

My Mum worked her whole life apart from a very few years when my brother and I were little, and I'm sure she didn't want me to be in the same situation she was in, compelled to work to put food on the table but at the same time condemned to unskilled, low-paid jobs because of her lack of education. And unable to help us much with schoolwork because it was all over her head. But from many of the things she said I know she also meant that an educated woman brings more to the care of her children than an uneducated one does. And I know you're going to jump on this like a ton o'bricks, but one more reason she mentioned (mind, this was a long, long time ago when I was a girl, and today I'd say it cuts both ways) was that a girl is more likely to meet a bloke who is also educated, her intellectual equal and likely to go on to make a decent living if she goes to uni than if she hangs around the local spinning mill.

I think you have the whole wrong end of the stick regarding raising a family; a woman might decide to stay at home full-time, part-time or just while the children are small, or she might decide to zoom back to work the moment her maternity leave is over. The world isn't divided into 'career women' on the one hand and 'women who stay at home and bake cakes' on the other. Whatever a woman decides to do, her children will benefit from having a mother who is educated. I really can't believe that you seriously think all a 'mother' needs to know is sewing, cooking and changing nappies. This lady to whom you give 'more respect than before' because it's pointed out to you that she worked and had kids - I very much doubt she would have ended up where she did if all she had had to fall back on was sewing and cooking.

If you think the only use for a uni degree is to get a job and make money....then I have to disagree. When education becomes purely vocational, I think both the individual and society as a whole lose out; I also think university education should be free for those who will best benefit from it, as it was for me in the UK (damn both Labour and the Coalition for introducing and then raising tuition fees, when they not only got their education free but likely got a grant, too) and I agree that not everyone who wants to go to uni is really uni material; but those are completely different topics and OT here. I look forward to debating them with you if/when JT provides a suitable thread.

It's disappointing to still see educated women parroting the idea that a woman's life task is to raise a family. You devalue the work and aspirations of millions of hard-working women as well as relegate fathers to a marginal role in family life.

Rubbish. I'm not saying it's a 'woman's task' to raise a family at all, or that fathers are marginal. Some women have no children, that doesn't mean they've missed their life's work. It doesn't matter who stays at home to look after the kids when they're little, but whoever does it needs to be conscious of the importance of what they're doing, and not let their self-esteem be eroded by people who look down on them and assume all it takes is a bit of sewing and cooking.

And of course, Himajin hits the nail right on the head when she asks if we really want our kids raised by uneducated women.

Ds - Ask the right questions, and you'll probably find most of those male coworkers assumed that marriage meant free sex on tap plus they no longer needed to cook, clean, shop or wash their own underwear....

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where I teach (an all-girls university), that is not happening. The girls are NOT educating themselves.

I think I would be wary of assuming that students at an all-girls university are typical of most female students. The very fact that they're at an all-girls establishment points to a certain mind-set and a certain kind of upbringing.

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I'm always amazed at how the successful Japanese women managed their personal life. Almost all I've met have children and husband. I guess J women are really good at planning their future.

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Cleo could you kindly explain how 1) a degree in say, sedimentary deposits in estuarine systems, would advantage a parent in raising children over someone with only high-school qualificiations, and 2) how your statement "'Educate a boy, and you educate a worker; educate a girl, and you educate a family'" is NOT suggesing raising a family is a woman's job and fathers only have a marginal role?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

it is my homble opinion this women be in the kitchen making sandwiches

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@Maitake

it is my homble(humble) opinion this women be in the kitchen making sandwiches

Suuure, why not my dear Maitake... Women are INDEED the best in the kitchen...while I cook, my husband straps the baby on his back and goes around the house cleaning and putting everything in order...later I go to the bathtub and spray it with mold-remover and then MY husband is outside picking up the laundry and folding it.

Yeees, of course, women should make sandwiches, while men do the laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and countless other things around the house. It's a proven fact, Men that like doing house chores are magnificent. Husband gets treated like a KING. (^_~) We are NOT living in the Edo period anymore, You get married and have children, everything should be 50-50...period.

So.....Do you want a beer with those sandwiches? (^_^)

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

it is my homble opinion this women be in the kitchen making sandwiches

Maitake: I know some posters are rude in their comments, but this is the first comment that really insult me as a woman. I hope you're married to a woman who stays home to cook, clean, remove your shoes when you get home, and plays deaf ears to your ex-marital affairs if you could afford them!

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scotchegg, 1) it doesn't matter what the degree is in. The experience of 3-4 years' self-regulated study instills an inner discipline that you don't get from just doing the homework that's handed to you at high school. And raising kids requires lots of self-discipline. Plus once the kids are off your hands it's surely easier to get back to work if you have some kind of skill or qualification?

2) Not my statement, my Mum's. It was a long, long time ago and the world is a bit different now. Yet look around you and count how many women you see looking after kids, and how many men you see looking after kids. It's still overwhelmingly predominantly the mother who does the lion's share of child-raising. Whether you think that's the way it should be or not, whether that's the way it is in your family, is by the by. It's the way it is, and probably the way it's going to be for some time to come.

Blue - 50-50?? 110-110!

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By 2013, the company hopes that 30 percent of its managers will be female.

You see, this is what I hate about equality "movements". You end up with potential reverse discrimmaination. If you're shooting for true "equal opportunity", then this quota of 30 percent female managers is BS. Give every person the opportunity to perform, then reward the most capable one with the job. You may end up with 20 percent female managers, or you may end up with 60 percent female managers...... regardless, you will have provided equal opportunity to all. Same goes for what the American government calls "Visible Minorities" (which includes women).

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it is my homble opinion this women be in the kitchen making sandwiches

To the person who wrote this comment, and also to the people who took this comment too seriously: You're bringing the quality of comments on JT down to the level found in comments on Yahoo news.

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Shame that this woman, who has been working for over 30 years for gender equality, is still less than 1% of the executives in Japan. One-tenth the level of other major economies. She will never see something even close to her goal of some reasonable level of gender equality in mangement ranks in Japan in her lifetime. Things truly do move awfully slowly in Japan. And don't think executives from major multi-national companies, especially female ones, don't notice the almost complete lack of women in management in Japan. It sends an immediate signal to those folks that Japan is still a dinasaur in many ways.

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Men were very Rude towards woman made them depressive ... and sick... So those woman asking 50-50...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Will she be forced to retire at age 65? She is 64 now.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Himajin, did you read my post? I suggested other forms of education rather than just university.

Why, yes I did. Magnanimous of you to offer them other choices :-D ...when it has absolutely nothing to do with you, if I may say so. Your dislike of SAHMs is apparent.

Feminism was supposed to be about women making their own choices, whatever they may be,not the choices dictated to them by NOW and career women, a narrow range of politically correct choices. .

I became a mother in the early 80s and decided to stay home with our son. We were transferred to the US when he was a little over 2. Oh, the slings and arrows, all from women...women somehow think it's their duty (with the strong herd mentality they often display) to check up on other women and make sure they're toeing the party line. I even had a flight attendant ask me, 'Do you work?' and snap at me when I said I did not. The comments were varied. 'You are wasting your education' 'You must not have any ambition, then' 'You are hurting all women by not working'

I think I love that last one best. My not having a high-flying career keeps some other woman from getting a job, are we all joined at the hip? If we're honest, most people have 'jobs' not 'careers', men and women alike, minimum wage earners to cubicle farm workers. Women were sold on the idea that work was 'fun' and 'exciting', instead of a something that's necessary to put bread on the table. A good deal older than many on here, I remember my mother yelling at my father ,'It's alright for you, you get to go out to work every day!' as if he was going to an amusement park. I'm sure he would have liked to have worked less! The talk shows of the day showed women who were models, in administration, flight attendants, all dressed in very expensive clothes, they made it look like housewives lived very sad lives. However, how many women get the glamorous career (even though what constitutes that may change with the era)?

Each women should decide the course of her own life, how much education she'll receive, whether or not to marry, whether or not to have kids and how many, and whether to raise them herself or put them in day care, and quite frankly, no one else has to be happy with her decisions but herself and her family.

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A certain company I work for which promotes itself as 'international' actually still has an incredibly backward mindset amongst a few of the older managers. A question I was asked at a meeting. 'Why are we teaching women English?' I just continued talking over him as I didn't think the two Neanderthal braincells holed up in his head could have coped with a reply. Also the amount of times, I have been asked to pour tea or coffee as I am the 'only woman' in town.....oops sorry the room! I graciously declined their requests and told them to go pour their own tea! It really has been an eye opener for me!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Cleo:

scotchegg, 1) it doesn't matter what the degree is in. The experience of 3-4 years' self-regulated study instills an inner discipline that you don't get from just doing the homework that's handed to you at high school. And raising kids requires lots of self-discipline. Plus once the kids are off your hands it's surely easier to get back to work if you have some kind of skill or qualification?

You really think 3 years of university instills more self-discipline than 3 years in the workplace?! I think not. Never met any students who skipped lectures because of a hangover? I absolutely agree that having a qualification means it's easier to get back on-ramp after the kids are school age, but that is a)not related to your original point that higher education makes better-equipped child raisers, and b) something that we can and should apply to both sexes.

2) Not my statement, my Mum's. It was a long, long time ago and the world is a bit different now. Yet look around you and count how many women you see looking after kids, and how many men you see looking after kids. It's still overwhelmingly predominantly the mother who does the lion's share of child-raising. Whether you think that's the way it should be or not, whether that's the way it is in your family, is by the by. It's the way it is, and probably the way it's going to be for some time to come.

And presumably you didn't quote your Mum because you disagreed with her. That kind of "it's the way it is" is again, frankly disappointing to hear. It's a good job people like Emilie Pankhurst didn't share that attitude of social inertia or women wouldn't even have the vote. Just because it's the way it is doesn't mean it's the way it should be, and it surely shouldn't be beyond humanity to make work and family life more fulfilling for both men and women. Whether you like it or not.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wonderful post from Himajin. Wish I could have written it....!

scotchegg - Yes, I do believe that 3-4 years of higher education instills more self-discipline than three years in the kind of job most people are likely to find straight from school. Assuming that it's a genuine academic course, not one of those 'Your parents pay up front and a degree comes out the other end' -type of three-year holiday. Of course the benefits of education applies to both sexes - my original remark was in reply to tmarie who wants all potential sahms taking sewing and cookery lessons instead of getting a proper education. It's that kind of attitude, I think, that demeanours women, not the recognition of the importance of parenting. I don't see anyone suggesting that understanding, progressive potential stay-at-home dads should be relegated to sewing lessons - what's the difference? Why is a man who stays at home 'modern' while a woman who wants to raise her own kids is a 'princess'?

My Mum's remark was made in a time when it was accepted that men worked and women looked after the kids, and people said quite openly to her that she was a fool to let me (nay, encourage me) go on past compulsory education because I would 'only get married and waste it'. And now we have people on this thread - supposedly all in favour of women's rights - saying exactly the same thing as the dinosaurs from 40 years back. And they think they're sticking up for women!

As Himajin says so eloquently, it's about choice, not about everyone being obliged to follow the same path.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How inspiring! A story of persistence .I wanna meet her someday and work for the company.

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If you get married and never work, then yes chances are 4 years of liberal arts university education is wasted. The time would be better spent learning skills necessary to your life- cooking, cleaning, safe driving, basic financial planning, early childhood education, gardening, etc. A stay home parent needs a uni degree about as much as a cow needs flippers.

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I agree with Blue witch and tmarie- women need more, really more place in the workforce. Instead, they are treated like some obstacles in the company. It happened so I was in my last year in my PhD course when I got married, and at interviwes people little cared about my skills and knowledge. They would rather ask- "What will you do if your husband gets transferred somewhere? You'll have to follow him!" or " What will you do if we are busy with some project or important negotiations and suddenly your child gets sick?Whom will you choose?" , "See, our company needs people fully devoted to it!".One company was ready to hire me while I was still dating my husband, on one condition-that I will part him to dedicate my life to the company's prosperity. All of my friends-women with Masters or PhDs had troubles finding job, especially the married ones. This is disgrace! Women need to stay with the child during its first year, to bond with it. Their role as mothers should be recognized and respected, and they shouldn't be rejected from the society and put in uneven position with men because they had chosen to become mothers. Women aren't accessories to men anymore, they aren't oku-san(the one who lives inside), they aren't kanai (the one who lives inside the house) .

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

reasonable asking equally

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

cooking, cleaning, safe driving, basic financial planning, early childhood education, gardening, etc.

Apart from the early childhood education, aren't those skills that everyone needs to learn, not just parents? Glad to see what a high regard you have for parents - not far different from the dinosaurs who interviewed sasoriza.

To repeat what others have said - education is never wasted.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think this issue goes deeper than gender equality.

If the major requirement for an executive position in a Japanese company was actual ability, verified by statistics and not opinion, and the candidate's university, social position, connections, PR AND gender were not taken into account, I think some progress might be made.

Until then, Japan's going to continue to ride the wave of global economy, drifting, not under its own power.

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As always women have to protect women also about work, chances and equality. Thank you to Ms. Iwata for what she has been doing.

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Sorry Cleo, still can't find anything in your post to justify your point of view. How exactly does being an undergraduate student for 3 years teach you more self discipline than working in a machine tools factory for example? And then how exactly does a degree in sedimentary deposits in estuarine systems advantage someone over a parent with no degree when it comes to raising children?

Also I'm not sure what you mean by " Assuming that it's a genuine academic course, not one of those 'Your parents pay up front and a degree comes out the other end' -type of three-year holiday", but if it is more than simple academic snobbery then could you clarify what type of degree you consider valid?

As for "it's about choice, not about everyone being obliged to follow the same path.", I'm sure most sensible people would be with you there, but frankly I don't know how you can say on one hand that the status quo is that women raise the kids and will do for a long time wether you like it or not on one hand, and claim to be advocating choice on the other. We're not likely to see the changes either in social or legislative practice if we all think 'oh well, that's the way it is'.

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What's the thing with sedimentary deposits in estuarine systems? Did you know someone with a degree in it who was a lousy parent, or something?

Spending three or four years studying for a degree - finding out facts, sorting out your thoughts, putting them down on paper, getting others to scrutinise them - teaches the kind of thinking skills and discipline that you don't get in a 9-to-5 entry-level unskilled job in a factory where you do as you're told and clock off on the dot. (I've done both.) Not saying there aren't some fabulous parents out there who left school at 16 or whatever age - my own parents were both working at 14, and no one had better parents - but my Mum was very candid that she felt she could have done better (maybe if she only meant that she would have felt more confident, and less defensive at school parents' evenings, better able to help us with our homework) if only she'd had more education.

As for the 3-year holidays - I'm talking about what tmarie is talking about when she says, 'Uni degrees are basically the new high school diploma. Anyone can get one these days, not everyone deserves to have one - and in some cases, be "given" it because mom and dad paid the tuition.' Surely no one believes that all degrees are equal? Why then all the fuss about uni rankings?

frankly I don't know how you can say on one hand that the status quo is that women raise the kids and will do for a long time wether you like it or not on one hand, and claim to be advocating choice on the other.

The thing is, whether you like it or not, most women do want to look after their own kids if only for the first year or couple of years. So there's no point looking around society, seeing most women happily doing what they have chosen to do, and throwing up your hands in horror because they're not doing what you want them to. Both boys and girls deserve to be given the best education they can handle (that doesn't mean everyone ends up with a PhD) so that they are equipped and qualified to make the decisions they want to make. Telling a girl she shouldn't go to university because she'll 'only waste it if she gets married', telling her she's not allowed to look after her own kids because she has a degree in sedimentary deposits in estuarine systems, praising a man for 'understandingly' staying at home while his wife goes out to work yet verbally birching the wife when the situation is reversed, are all examples of blatant sexism and the unnecessary poking of noses into other folks' business. If you want someone else to look after your kids while you pursue a career or or simply earn a living, then that's an equally valid choice and the necessary infrastructure - quality day care, flexible/reduced hours etc., for men and women, etc. - needs to be in place so that people can make that choice if they want to.

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For 40 years I have supported and fought for equal opportunities for all. I find it shocking that even now in advanced countries like Japan, in the work place, women still don't have an equal footing.

I waste of talent.

The post isn't about whether mothers should work or not, that's an individual choice. It's about equality for those who do want to work. Most female CE0's I know, are CEO's of their own companies, it was the only way.

Back in Britain I worked for several female bosses and found it both more enjoyable and less hassle than working for male ones.

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Cleo I haven't even implied, let alone said women should be denied education so kindly don't infer it. I'm just contensting your opinion that higher education makes parents better equipped to raise children than those that don't have it.

Also I haven't even implied, let alone said that men should be praised for staying at home while women work, so kindly don't infer it.

I strongly disagree that the kind of critical thinking, theory formulation and thought structuring are more valuable in raising small children than the kind of observational learning, pattern recognition, understanding of routines, following instructions etc. that working on manufacturing might give. (The sedimentary degree isn't personal, just the first thing I could think of as narrowly vocational. Don't ask...)

I'm fully aware that most women want to look after their own kids. Guess what! Loads of men do too but the working environment is too heavily tilted towards men at the moment so few women have the option to sustain careers to support husbands who want to raise the kids. Add to that the sort of reactionary "that's the way it is whether you like it or not" thinking you came out with earlier, and it's no surprise we have lots of dissatisfied fathers and mothers. I'm saying we should have equality of choice for both men and women to balance family and work responsibilities, and 'educating a man benefits the economy, and educating a woman benefits the family' only perpetuates these gender assignments.

I would absolutely criticize women who feel its their role solely to raise a family and the husbands role solely to work, in equal measure to the criticism I would give a man who thinks it's his role solely to work while his wife's role is solely child-raising. Both work and family can provide great fulfillment, and a psychology that makes it acceptable to bar women from fulfilling careers or fathers an equally active role in childcare (and vice versa, absolutely) should be criticized at every opportunity.

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Scotchegg, well said!!!

This is going to be long as there is just sooo much to work with.. Let's start with Cleo.

I don't see more jukus as a good thing. (If the schools do their job, there's no need for extra schooling, if kids need help with their homework, Mum and Dad should be there to give it) I don't either but the way the school systems works here, it seems like you "have" to have your kid in one if they want to get into a decent school. Why? Due to the fact that jukus are now part of the recommendation system that high schools and unis use. They also teach to entrance tests because the schools and jukus work together. If parents here supported teachers and demanded change, we wouldn't need them. Personally, I hate them but... it is Japan and it seems that this is what parents do here.

Clubs and swimming lessons, if it's what the kid wants, fine - if it's to keep the kid out of the way and occupied while Mum does her career thing, not so good. Indeed. I often wonder why SAHM sends their kids to yochien and can't help but feel it is because mom wants to get rid of her kids. They don't do anything that a SAHM coulldn't do so why pack Jr off and spend money on it? Why enroll two year olds in eikiawa? It isn't just the career moms that pack off their kids. At least with a working mom, she's doing it to put food on the table. SAHM? What could be the reason if she decided to stay home and be with her kids? Makes no sense to me. Plenty of mom and kid play groups out there that they don't need to pay someone to do what they said they would do if they became a SAHM.

As for food...not sure it's necessarily better. More expensive maybe, which in terms of the economy might be a good thing; but if Mum and Dad are both busy, it's more likely to be 'quick and easy convenience food' than 'better food'. More likely? Says who?? Plenty of SAHM moms feed their kids crap. Ever looked in a bento made by some of the moms here? IF they even bother to make anything. Most stuff if reheated, pre-cooked food they bought, not made. More money in the family usually means more fruit, veg... There is a correlation with income and obesity. You might want to look into it.

compelled to work to put food on the table but at the same time condemned to unskilled, low-paid jobs because of her lack of education Um, do you think most working women in this country with a uni degree have a skilled, high paying job? Ha! Most work under the magical 13 man a month so they can stay on hubbies pension and health care. They don't need degrees for these jobs. Most won't get hired for a FT job after taking time off to have kids. Most don't want FT jobs either. The women who are being hurt the well educated ones who ARE working FT who get overlooked because well, so many others quit their jobs. If women in Japan want high paying, high skilled jobs, they can't just quit when they get married and want to start a family. The same goes for back home as well. Which is why may take their maternity leave and get back to work. You don't have to like it, you don't have to think it is fair. You don't even have to accept it but that is the way it is and I don't see it changing in the future - more so, in Japan.

an educated woman brings more to the care of her children than an uneducated one does Wow, the snobbery on that one is beyond believable. Do you think someone with a higher degree and more degrees than yourself will care more about her child than you do about yours? There is being aware of things but an "education" in terms of uni and being a better parents? Sorry, nope.

a girl is more likely to meet a bloke who is also educated, her intellectual equal and likely to go on to make a decent living if she goes to uni than if she hangs around the local spinning mill. Intellectual equal?? Do you know the state of the unis here and how people get in? Go back to the recommendation system, dad having money, private schools... Is there anything wrong with falling in love with someone from the local spinning mill? Again, snobbery.

I think you have the whole wrong end of the stick regarding raising a family Of course you do. You think anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong.

a woman might decide to stay at home full-time, part-time or just while the children are small, or she might decide to zoom back to work the moment her maternity leave is over. The world isn't divided into 'career women' on the one hand and 'women who stay at home and bake cakes' on the other. Yes, actually, it is. The divide between those who never had kids and who got back to work after maternity leave vs those who took years off to stay home and back cakes is very clear in terms of salary and position in the work force. It is rare here, home, in other countries that a women who takes more than her maternity leave will ever be making the same amount of money or have the same position as someone who who didn't take a lot of time off. They aren't seen as career women. Again,you don;t have to agree or like it but this IS how is works. Hence why so many women are waiting to have kids or refusing to have them period. They value their job and position and know that once they step off the merry go round they'll have a hell of a time getting back on. Is it fair? To some, perhaps no. To those who stay on for the full ride, it probably is.

Whatever a woman decides to do, her children will benefit from having a mother who is educated And by this, you only mean by graduating from uni, right? I already stated there are other forms of education out there but you seem hell bent on uni being it.

I really can't believe that you seriously think all a 'mother' needs to know is sewing, cooking and changing nappies. I would love to know where I suggested this is all I think they need to know.

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Part Two

If you think the only use for a uni degree is to get a job and make money....then I have to disagree. When education becomes purely vocational, I think both the individual and society as a whole lose out; I also think university education should be free for those who will best benefit from it Hate to say it Cleo but not many people go to uni now to learn. They go because it is what is expected of them. Without a degree, they won't be able to find a decent job. Hate it, don't accept it but this is the truth. Ask any student today why they are at uni and most will tell you because they want to find a job. I think free uni is a great idea but sadly, not going to happen again with the economy. Free for those who will benefit from it?? Are you suggesting there are some who wouldn't benefit from it??

It doesn't matter who stays at home to look after the kids So someone HAS to stay at home and look after the kids?? Why?

and not let their self-esteem be eroded by people who look down on them and assume all it takes is a bit of sewing and cooking. If one is comfortable with the choices they've made in life, their self-esteem wouldn't be eroded by people who don't share the same opinions as them. I also don't think anyone here has suggested that it takes a bit of sewing and cooking as much as you might hope someone has. I certainly don't let the annoying SAHM/SAHW erode my self esteem with their nasty comments about me not being a good wife because I don't have kids nor stay at home all day. My friends who work and have kids also don't let these women erode their self esteem with the petty comments about how horrible they are as mothers for abandoning their kids and going off to work.

And of course, Himajin hits the nail right on the head when she asks if we really want our kids raised by uneducated women. Do you think those 21 year olds working in the yochiens are all that "educated"? Most of them go to tandais so by your standards of not being uni grads... It appears they aren't educated.

I think I would be wary of assuming that students at an all-girls university are typical of most female students. The very fact that they're at an all-girls establishment points to a certain mind-set and a certain kind of upbringing. Is this a joke? So, uni degrees are good. Uni degrees and students who go to all women's unis are not as good? Wow, way to move the goal posts. What kind of mind set and upbringing do these females supposedly have?? Interesting as studies have shown that all female education environments are better for women... guess Cleo knows something those researchers don't!

The experience of 3-4 years' self-regulated study instills an inner discipline that you don't get from just doing the homework that's handed to you at high school Oh dear, do you know anything about the uni system in Japan right now? If you think the students here are "self-regulated" and dealing with inner discipline, you really don't know what the situation is like. I am willing to be kids did a bit more when they were high school students.

Plus once the kids are off your hands it's surely easier to get back to work if you have some kind of skill or qualification? Wait, what? I thought people were going to uni to learn, not to help with their future employment. What "skills" and qualifications do you think these kids learn at uni that they couldn't learn somewhere else - say, on the job training or doing a trade? Or heck, taking one of the many tests here for "job skills" that this country offers?

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Scotchegg, You're taking my previous reply to another poster who did say that education was wasted on mothers and taking it in a totally absurd direction. Every time there's a thread about working mothers and I and others mention that women should have the choice of staying home and looking after their own kids if they want, it seems folk immediately assume that means 'every woman should stay home whether she wants to or not'. I'm not saying that. I'm saying that women should have the option of deciding what they want to do - which it appears is what you're also saying, so I really don't understand all this angst and accusations of reactionary thinking.

If I say I do not criticise 'women who feel its their role solely to raise a family and the husbands role solely to work', nor do I criticise 'a man who thinks it's his role solely to work while his wife's role is solely child-raising', am I saying that those are the roles everyone should play? No! All I'm saying is that it's their choice, not mine, not yours, any more than it's our choice if women want to go to work and men want to stay at home. And people should be given the tools, including education, to be able to make those choices. Surely it's the 'education is wasted on women who want to be mothers' idea that is reactionary. No one, certainly not me, is suggesting that it's 'acceptable to bar women from fulfilling careers or fathers an equally active role in childcare'. Quite the opposite.

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Himajin, Why, yes I did. Magnanimous of you to offer them other choices :-D ...when it has absolutely nothing to do with you, if I may say so. Your dislike of SAHMs is apparent. And your dislike of anyone who doesn't stay at home and/or agree with you is apparent.

It DOES have something to do with me when my tax money is being used to help support SAHM families. Get rid of the tax break, the 13 man cap and I wouldn't really have an issue with it all. Japan seems to punish families with both parents working while giving huge tax breaks to those who tow the SAHM line. I don't care about SAHM moms in other countries. If they can afford to stay home and look after the kids based on their husband's salaries, great. Thing is, that isn't the system here. The system encourages women to stay home using my tax money as an incentive. That pisses me off. Of course, you don't have an issue with it because you seem to benefit from it. - no idea if that is true though.

Feminism was supposed to be about women making their own choices, whatever they may be,not the choices dictated to them by NOW and career women, a narrow range of politically correct choices Indeed, it was. Do you think the women in Japan have a choice? Tax break and stay at home or.. head to work and be labeled an uncaring mom by the community, worry about getting your child into daycare, deal with your family members making snide comments... If Japan really wanted to give women a choice, they would offer up free daycare like France,sit back and see how many of the women here would head to work. Heck, don't even make it free. Just provide enough daycare at a reasonable price and see what choices women make. I also not dictating anything. Interesting that Cleo has stated that someone needs to stay home with kids. Where is the choice in that??

Oh, the slings and arrows, all from women...women somehow think it's their duty (with the strong herd mentality they often display) to check up on other women and make sure they're toeing the party line. Again, your dislike of working women is showing. I personally think you have a right to be pissed. Just as I have a right to be pissed when people here tell me that I will be a horrible mom because I want to work. The difference being, I have a vested interest in where my tax money is being used and think I have a right to question it. Back home? SAHM can do whatever they like for all I care. You should have told those women as much.

I think I love that last one best. My not having a high-flying career keeps some other woman from getting a job, are we all joined at the hip? You do get that this sadly is true in Japan, right? You do get that women don't have the career options because men don't see the point in hiring, promoting, dealing with women, right? Why? Because many women in this country do quit their jobs once they get married and have kids. Is it fair? Certainly not but there are repercussions to this and it is that working women get hurt by it. I probably hate this more than you do based on my situation where if I do have a kid, I am pretty much expected to quit - and have been told so in certain terms. How do you think I feel with regards to this? How do you think other working moms feel? It sucks. I won't disagree with you on that but sadly, it is true.

If we're honest, most people have 'jobs' not 'careers', men and women alike, minimum wage earners to cubicle farm workers. Women were sold on the idea that work was 'fun' and 'exciting', instead of a something that's necessary to put bread on the table. You can think what you like on this topic. I don't agree with you. I wasn't sold of such notions. Which is why I made sure I ended up in a job that I love. I have a career. A damn good one. One that I love. I would hope that everyone could say the same. If not, perhaps they need to rethink what they are doing if they only see it as a means to an end.

However, how many women get the glamorous career (even though what constitutes that may change with the era)? How many want them? I don't. I want a career that challenges me and one that I enjoy. Luckily for me, that is exactly what I have. I don't think people expect "glamour" - and those who do seem to be rather naive.

Each women should decide the course of her own life, how much education she'll receive, whether or not to marry, whether or not to have kids and how many, and whether to raise them herself or put them in day care, and quite frankly, no one else has to be happy with her decisions but herself and her family. Certainly won't disagree with this.

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You're taking my previous reply to another poster who did say that education was wasted on mothers I don't think anyone said that at all. Perhaps you would like to go back and copy and paste that post.

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And your dislike of anyone who doesn't stay at home and/or agree with you is apparent. Again, your dislike of working women is showing.

Oh, no,no,no! Don't you try to put me into that corner. Not one word did I say about the effects of day care and less time with a parent on a baby, or any other effects of working on children or the family which you do get if you talk to an SAHM who dislikes women having careers.

What I hate is busybodies who decide what's right for everybody else! That's a huge difference. What right does a flight attendant (I remember her in particular just because it was so unexpected...) 'He's cute. So, do you work?' 'No' 'Another one! You're holding all women back!' What right does anyone have to tell me how to live my life!? I was perfectly happy with my decision, I didn't like others telling me I was wasting my mind raising my own child.....it's rather insulting when you think about it, and it reeks of superiority.

My DIL has a five-month-old, she works and the baby is in day care part time, her mother takes care of the baby the other days (I wish I could-I hate being this far away). I support her decision to work 100%, how could I possibly take a stance that some other mother shouldn't work?

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Interestingly, the situation in China is very different. There are many women in high and "top"-ranking positions of major companies.

As the article mentions, this is not (only) a problem of "evil men" keeping women out, but a much more widespread, cultural problem of a majority of people still thinking in patterns that were relevant between the 1950s and 1990s.

As long as career women in Japan are being looked down upon (or as I prefer to put it, envied) by their overly conservative peers, of course the majority of them will opt for a less confrontational "mom" lifestyle.

Japan will have to learn (and change) very quickly in this regard, as the current progress is much too slow.

Or it could give up competing with the US, China, and soon, India, and become some kind of resort for the workforce of said countries to spend their wages in. Much like Western Europe is slowly turning into a resort for wealthy Chinese because of an inability to compete with the determination of upcoming economies.

Maybe that's the better strategy for Japan, too - preserve everything as it is now, for tourists to marvel at.

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I don't she has any right to comment. Just as I don't think the old bags in the gym have a right to comment on me working and not having kids yet. I agree, it does indeed reek of superiority - just like the old bags I deal with. I hope you told her where to go - though nicely and in a way that didn't make you appear to be rude. The old bags are great when I smile sweetly and then point out all the things I can do because I have a job and have no kids...

Like I said, I really wouldn't care what the SAHM did during the day if my tax money wasn't being used to "support" their choices. Support them, Fine. But give working moms free day care. I probably wouldn't dislike them if I felt working women/moms got a fair trade off. Sadly though, we don't. That is what makes me angry. I am worried sick that I won't be able to keep my let alone get decent daycare!

My step-mom was a SAHM and did a damn good job. She worked her butt off and totally respect women like her. To me, it isn't really about staying at home and not working that bothers me, it is the tax break incentive given for it.

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"keep my job" - fingers are so cold and brain isn't working!! And "I don't think she had any right"

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tmarie -

not many people go to uni now to learn. They go because it is what is expected of them. Without a degree, they won't be able to find a decent job.

No argument with that.

Are you suggesting there are some who wouldn't benefit from it??

Of course. Not everyone is academically-minded. People who are there 'because it's expected of them' rather than because they want to learn, would probably be better off and happier doing something else, if society allowed it.

So someone HAS to stay at home and look after the kids?? Why?

Do you think those 21 year olds working in the yochiens are all that "educated"?

Looks like you answered your own question..... One reason I decided I wanted to look after my kids myself (apart from it being way, way more fun and satisfying than any old office job) was that I didn't/don't think anyone else would do it to my satisfaction. But if you're happy with the 21-year-olds, that's fine. Your choice.

I certainly don't let the annoying SAHM/SAHW erode my self esteem

Judging by the way you go on about them, they're hitting your buttons somewhere.....

What kind of mind set and upbringing do these females supposedly have??

Purely personal observation here, but looking at the people around me who choose to send their daughters to all-girls schools/unis.... in Japan at least, they tend to be the kind of parents, it seems to me, who are more likely (not in every case of course, so no need to write in but I went to a girls' school ~~) to consciously or unconsciously push their daughter into the 'this is what girls do' mould you hate so much. Like the 80% at DS's all-girls university who just want a husband.

I also don't think anyone here has suggested that it takes a bit of sewing and cooking

...didn't you?

do you know anything about the uni system in Japan right now?

I know what my own kids were doing, up until a year ago. Lots of self-discipline, hard work. Fun as well, some I'm sure they don't want Mum to know about, but hey, they're young.

As for your last point, you said yourself that people need a degree to get a decent job. A degree is a qualification. So two women, same age, same length of absence from work to produce a couple of kids, one has a uni degree, the other has a high school diploma; who's more likely to get the better-paying job? Or in the current economic climate, any job?

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The tax break thing - I'm totally behind tmarie. But I'd also be against sahms, childless couples and single people paying taxes to support free day care for working couples. If you want the service, you're earning, pay for it.

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Of course. Not everyone is academically-minded. People who are there 'because it's expected of them' rather than because they want to learn, would probably be better off and happier doing something else, if society allowed it. So you agree that a uni degree is wasted on some, then? Just not moms? So are you suggesting that is it wasted on men? I agree with your thinking on this which is why I suggest that women who have no career aspirations get an education in something they are interested in - if they want to be SAHM, why not learn skills that will benefit them rather than waste time of stuff they don't really care about and are just doing it because they were told they had to?

But if you're happy with the 21-year-olds, that's fine. Your choice. Oh, there's that nasty side! Not all day cares have 21 year old workers without a clue. If you are able to, you can actually find really nice daycares that have great staff that are educated in early childhood education. Which compared to many moms out there, is prob better for the kids in terms of safety, development... Montessori schools have a great rep, don't they? ;)

Judging by the way you go on about them, they're hitting your buttons somewhere..... The same could be said about you then, Cleo. You're certainly all over these threads as well, no? I enjoy the banter. Indeed, I roll my eyes at the comments but when it comes to self esteem and their comments, certainly not affecting mine. If anything, it lets me know that I clearly made the right choice by getting a good education and finding a job I love. The number of miserable looking moms out there is horrifying. I'm glad that I don't "have" to be one of them.

Purely personal observation here, but looking at the people around me who choose to send their daughters to all-girls schools/unis.... in Japan at least, they tend to be the kind of parents, it seems to me, who are more likely (not in every case of course, so no need to write in but I went to a girls' school ~~) to consciously or unconsciously push their daughter into the 'this is what girls do' mould you hate so much. Like the 80% at DS's all-girls university who just want a husband. So do you think they are less educated than those who go to a reg uni? I don't get your point with your first comment about it. You clearly have some sort of bias for whatever reason. For some, perhaps they put their daughters in such a school because they've also read reports that females do better in all female schools? Or perhaps it has a good rep for getting into good unis and finding good jobs? Sadly, the "I only want to get married" girls are not limited to all girl schools. If they were, I would be more than happy to avoid working at them.

...didn't you? Nope. Perhaps you should go back and reread what I wrote if you think I suggested only them.

I know what my own kids were doing, up until a year ago. Lots of self-discipline, hard work. Fun as well, some I'm sure they don't want Mum to know about, but hey, they're young. And do you think your kids are your average Japanese kids at Japanese uni? If you do, feel free to think that. Others like myself who work in the system will have a good laugh at it. I wish you were right, I truly do. However, that just isn't the case. If anything, high school teaches them more self-discipline and about working hard.

As for your last point, you said yourself that people need a degree to get a decent job. A degree is a qualification. So two women, same age, same length of absence from work to produce a couple of kids, one has a uni degree, the other has a high school diploma; who's more likely to get the better-paying job? Or in the current economic climate, any job? Indeed, they do need a degree to get a decent job. Can you give me a realistic scenario please? Two j moms who have been off work for any number of years to raise kids wouldn't be competing to get a decent job. That job would be going to some fresh out of uni grad. If you were to give me an example of a cashier job, I would prob go with the uni degree - though if the other is friends with the manager...

Hey, I am all for paying my own childcare but as long as they have tax breaks for SAHM, why can't I think I disagree with it and suggest my tax money goes to something that benefits me and my situation as well? I can dream, right?

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So are you suggesting that is it wasted on men?

On some men? Heck yeah.

if they want to be SAHM, why not learn skills that will benefit them rather than waste time of stuff they don't really care about

All the 'skills that will benefit them' that you have mentioned are, with the exception of early child education (why only early? Kids grow, still need help with homework right up to high school), skills that I would have thought everyone needed to learn, not just potential mothers. How do you know they don't really care about what they're studying? Isn't a well-rounded education that develops the person just as valid as some narrow vocational course? And why would you expect a 16-year-old to be dead certain what they wanted to do with the rest of his or her life?

Not all day cares have 21 year old workers without a clue.

Oh dear tmarie, it was you who brought up the 21-year-olds.

The number of miserable looking moms out there is horrifying. I'm glad that I don't "have" to be one of them.

You don't 'have' to be anything you don't want to be. Isn't that the whole point? Though why the mums should look miserable I have no idea. I loved having the opportunity to watch my kids grow.

do you think they are less educated than those who go to a reg uni?

I don't think I would say 'less educated'. More like, steered along a set path. One example, a neighbour who is the father of one of my daughter's friends told me he decided to send his daughter to an all-girls' school instead of the mixed school the rest of the gang went to because he wanted her to have a 'proper feminine education' and didn't want her going out with boys... nothing to do with academic standards, though it was a good school and she was/is a bright kid. As it turned out she was the first of the group of friends to get married, and is now a sahm. The girls who went mixed are mostly married, some are parents and all are working. I know one anecdote doesn't indicate a trend, but DS's mention of all-girls' unis brought it to mind.

do you think your kids are your average Japanese kids at Japanese uni?

Nope, both extremely bright kids at top-notch Japanese unis. But neither were there alone - hundreds of other kids working just as hard.

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On some men? Heck yeah. So just the men, not the women...

All the 'skills that will benefit them' that you have mentioned are, with the exception of early child education (why only early? And the except is something you clearly left out in you first post regarding it. Do you have any idea what early childhood education classes entail? I don't think you do or you wouldn't be so flippant about the comment. Why only early? Never heard of middle or late course. You know of any? Indeed, it would be great to have some. Thing is, many people seem to think that parenting is "natural" and whatnot. Anyone can have a kid right, why bother learning how to be a better parent? Why bother learning how to be better at what it is you claim you want to do for the next 20 years of your life... I find it sad that these girls claim they want to get married and have kids but don't have the first clue about cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, balancing accounts.. Perhaps if they had a clue, they wouldn't be in such a rush to do it? Education is key, right? isn't that what you've been saying? Surely you can't disagree that it would be a good idea for these women to learn more about looking after their kids and their home. Would be great if all parents took such courses but if you're working FT and your kid is at a good daycare...

How do you know they don't really care about what they're studying? How about because I chat to my students and they openly tell me this don't care? How about the fact that I deal with students who are 20/21 and don't have a clue what they want to do for work and are getting seriously freaked out about all the job hunting pressure? How about a little credit where it is due to the teachers who do speak to their students and do see issues in the system? DS is IN the system and also seems to see the problems.

Isn't a well-rounded education that develops the person just as valid as some narrow vocational course? Coming from a person who only seems to think that a uni degree is the best form "education"... Coming from a women who just admitted uni is wasted on some men but doesn't seem to think it is wasted on some women... Coming from a poster who seems to look down on women only education institutions... What is "well rounded" to you? What does formal education have to do with developing?

Oh dear tmarie, it was you who brought up the 21-year-olds. Indeed I did but I wasn't the one dismissing them like you were.

You don't 'have' to be anything you don't want to be. Isn't that the whole point? Though why the mums should look miserable I have no idea. I loved having the opportunity to watch my kids grow. I am lucky that I don't have to be anything I don't want to be. I was given the choices to make the decisions that led me to have the life where I can decide that. I don't think all women here can say this. I think many get pushed into an education they don't care about, pushed into having kids they don't want, get pushed out of jobs they wanted to keep...

No Cleo, you really don't get why some moms are miserable which is why you and I clash on this threads time and time again. You enjoyed being a SAHM. Many don't. Many would rather be at the office and have their kids in daycare. Unfortunately, this country doesn't support working moms (and heck, SAHM moms if I am going to be honest when it comes to their mental health and well being) and often doesn't give them the chance to be who they want to be and do what they want to do - hence why I think the women in this article is amazing. I'm not a Japanese women. I didn't grow up being told I had to be XYZ and that in order for me to be a good mom I had to do XYZ. The same can't be said for the majority of women in this country. People make the comments to me know and I just laugh at them - and am thankful I wasn't raised with such restrictions and notions of them.

I don't think I would say 'less educated'. More like, steered along a set path. How is that any different than those female who go to a mixed school? How is that any different than the males in this society who have it drilled into them that they must be men and provide for the family by going out and working? How is that different from any of the students sitting in a juku right now being pressured to do whatever it is their parents and/or teachers suggest?

Perhaps your all female schooling could be used as the reason why you seem so set in your ways that someone has to be home with their kid? I will give you credit that you state either mother or father but why? Why not daycare? Based on some of the parenting I have seen here, day care would be a lot better than some SAHM. Perhaps why you don't understand why some moms are miserable and would rather not be at home with their kid is because of your all girl's school education? See how condescending that is when I say it to you? Pretty much how I image some of the females of these schools might feel if they read your post regarding their education and how you blatantly think it is lower than mixed schools. Do you feel this way about all male schools?

Nope, both extremely bright kids at top-notch Japanese unis. But neither were there alone - hundreds of other kids working just as hard. And what is the percentage of top notch schools compared to say, average schools in Japan? I am glad that it is working for you but sometimes I really do think you need to take off the rose tinted glasses and look around. I'm glad you enjoyed your life, enjoyed staying home, have kids that do well in school. Thing is, that isn't average. There are plenty of people, male and female, who are being pushed into things they don't really want to do - be in uni, being a SAHM, being a company drone... I applaud this women for working her butt off, having kids, trying to change the policies around working moms and pushing an issue in Japan that clearly needs to be pushed.

At the end of the day, it should be about choice - you and I will both agree on that - but how do women in this country have a choice when they don't have support? Not enough day cares, pressure to stay home with the kids, not able to take a few years off and come back to a career, pressure to go to uni to find a suitable mate, pressure to look pretty, be a good cook, buy designer clothes... I don't see the women in this country having the choice of giving all this crap the middle finger and doing what they want to do and being okay with their choices. I think Iwata San did this and I wish their were more women like here - though for that to happen, their needs to be changes.

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Cleo,

You're taking my previous reply to another poster who did say that education was wasted on mothers and taking it in a totally absurd direction.

Really? So you didn't write

Telling a girl she shouldn't go to university because she'll 'only waste it if she gets married', telling her she's not allowed to look after her own kids because she has a degree in sedimentary deposits in estuarine systems, praising a man for 'understandingly' staying at home while his wife goes out to work yet verbally birching the wife when the situation is reversed, are all examples of blatant sexism and the unnecessary poking of noses into other folks' business.

in a reply to me? If you didn't really write that then there's no need to apologise for taking mistaken inference one step too far and accusing me of sexism.

Can you really not see why you're open to accusations of reactionary thought when you say things like 'It's the way it is and the way it's going to be for some time to come'? If not I'll repeat the example I gave earlier; do you think women would have got the vote in the UK if Emilie Pankhurst had accepted that type of thinking? Should we really tell children that that's the way society is constructed so don't hope for anything different? Even if you actually don't subscribe to the gender assignments the psychology you display when you say that will only maintain the status quo.

I absolutely agree that realistically-enforcable legislation and supportive infrastructure should be provided to allow parents to decide themselves about the split of child-care and career. And that's as far as legislation should go, but I disagree that beyond that it's nobody's business about the choice they make. You've said yourself that parenting is way more rewarding than work, and although I really enjoy my job I agree. The vast majority of fathers I know agree and would love to spend more time with their children, but people saying 'that's not the way it is' sustains a social and business environment where it's just not possible. For that reason I think it shouldn't be socially acceptable to allow mothers to monopolise child-care, any more than it should be socially acceptable for fathers to prioritise their career and ignore their kids. I hope that more stay at home mums and workaholic fathers feel awkward about their choice because more balanced involvement by men and women in both family and work spheres can only be a benefit for society.

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The best mother is one that stays home with her kids and takes care of them.

By raising kids with love and attention each stay at home moms contributes to society, as much if not more than a corporate exec.

Kudos to all the stay at home moms out there who have decided to put their kids first, before company profit, before all else, that's where kids belong.

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While I agree with the kudos for the women who choose to raise a family I also have respect for women who are successful in business. The two aren't mutually exclusive. This is another attitude that needs to change in Japan.

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Every hour spent in a corporate office is an hour of attention stolen from a deserving child.

A baby can't speak, but if it could, no doubt it would say "Mommy stay with me and take care of me. I want to be with you".

We should consider the children first, they are helpless and innocent. Why are we abandoning them with strangers, to be raised in a factory style daycare with stressed out staff juggling 6 crying babies each.

Even if the daycare staff are qualified and skilled, there's no replacement for the warm hug, soothing voice and love of a child's mother.

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The best mother is one that stays home with her kids and takes care of them.

The best mother is one that does the best for her child. For some, that will mean staying at home. For some, it will mean leaving the child with a competent child minder while she earns a living. A mother who stays at home going neurotic because she really wants to be somewhere else is not doing what's best for her child.

Should we really tell children that that's the way society is constructed so don't hope for anything different?

Don't hope for your Mum to want to look after you? Really?

I hope that more stay at home mums and workaholic fathers feel awkward about their choice

You're saying you want to impose your values on others, and you want them to feel bad if they don't agree with you. That's reactionary.

tmarie, it seems you've flipped from sensible discussion to desperately trying to pick holes in anything and everything. You asked about men, I replied about men. That doesn't mean things are different for women. In fact while you and I sit on opposite sides of the fence on this topic, we're actually pretty close in our base opinion - people should have choice. You seem to be blinded by the notion that 'anyone who is sympathetic to sahms hates working women'. That isn't the case at all, and it doesn't take much insight to realise that - though as a working woman, you do seem pretty scathing in your opinion of sahms. Like the majority of other mums, I did my stint as a sahm, stayed at home until the younger child was in kindergarten, now I work. Why would I be against working women?

As for single-sex schooling, yes, I'm against it for both boys and girls. What are the all-girl schools teaching that boys don't need to learn? And what are the boy schools teaching that girls are not allowed to learn? The world at large is co-ed, school is a good place for people to learn to get used to that. In the old days, all schools were for boys, and girls stayed at home to help Mum until they married. While many girls' schools in the West seem to have developed into respectable academic institutions in their own right, in Japan they still seem to me to have an atmosphere of being somewhere to park daughters until they're old enough to marry. I wouldn't send my daughter to an all-girls' school or my son to an all-boys', unless there was absolutely no alternative.

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Cleo, it is very easy to pick holes in your posts. You've made some pretty nasty comments about those you don't deem "good enough" for you - the girls educated at female only schools, the mill workers.... It reeks of elitism.

You seem to be blinded by your own experiences of being a SAHM and enjoying it. Also add in that you raised your kids in a very different time, many families can't afford to have mom staying at home and not helping with the family finances. Glad it worked out for you but certainly isn't the case for many families out there. It is about choice but the way things are in Japan, women don't have much of one. Surely, you can admit that, no?

Why would you be against working moms? That I still haven't figured out but you certainly do pop up on every single thread claiming that someone needs to be home with the kids - mom or dad so you seem to have some issues with someone not being home - and let's be honest, in Japan, that means mom in most cases. Remember, you did write It doesn't matter who stays at home to look after the kids meaning that someone needs to be HOME.

I'm also waiting for you to copy and paste who said that an education is wasted on moms/females. Oh right, no one said such a thing. The least you could do is admit you overreacted on that and went with it. I doubt this would have turned into this thread if you had bothered to read what was written, not what you thought was written.

Choice. Indeed. Thing is, it is lacking in Japan for both men and women when it comes to family options.

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Oh and "anyone who is sympathetic to sahms hates working women" - why is there any need to be "sympathetic" to SAHMs? I mean, it is their choice, right??

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who said that an education is wasted on moms/females.

NOV. 27, 2011 - 05:47PM JST a uni degree for someone who won't use it is a waste .......I personally don't see the point of a uni education for a women if her whole ambition is to stay at home with the kids. Sewing, cooking, child rearing, early childhood education.. would be better

It looks like I missed the first part of your post yesterday (it's a long thread.....)

you "have" to have your kid in one if they want to get into a decent school. Why? Due to the fact that jukus are now part of the recommendation system that high schools and unis use.

Strange my kids never went to juku but did fine in entrance exams and got a recommendation to a very good public uni. Juku may help kids who 1) attend schools that aren't fulfilling their task of teaching or 2) have parents who don't/can't help with schoolwork. But you are absolutely wrong if you're suggesting that attendance at juku is necessary to get a recommendation. It isn't.

I often wonder why SAHM sends their kids to yochien

It's pre-school. What's wrong with pre-school? Lots of Mums, like me, see the start of kindergarten as the first step in getting back to work. Don't you want women back at work?

At least with a working mom, she's doing it to put food on the table.

I thought she was out there because she mustn't waste her education and working is more fulfilling than looking after a kid?

Plenty of SAHM moms feed their kids crap.

Perhaps they'd do better if they'd had a bit more education.....Seriously though, come on, lots of parents on either side of the divide feed their kids crap, some because they don't know any better, some because they don't care all that much, some because they have a chronic phobia regarding healthy eating (vis the comments following any recommendation of a healthy vegetarian diet), some because they like crap themselves and no one is going to tell them what to eat or feed their kids, gawddammit. If time is at a premium it's going to be hard to spend hours preparing food every day.

Do you know the state of the unis here and how people get in? Go back to the recommendation system, dad having money, private schools...

Again, I know how my kids got in...recommendation yes, based on grades. No money, no juku, no connections.

Is there anything wrong with falling in love with someone from the local spinning mill? Again, snobbery.

A lifetime of struggling on low incomes in unskilled jobs? I know lots of people do it, my parents did it, their parents did it, I don't want my kids to do it. Not snobbery, realism.

You think anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong.

Oh my oh my oh my. Pot, kettle, black. lol

those who never had kids and who got back to work after maternity leave vs those who took years off to stay home and back cakes(sic)

?? why are women who never had kids taking maternity leave? (I'm not really concerned about women who stay home to 'bake cakes'. I'm discussing the ones who stay home to raise kids.)

why is there any need to be "sympathetic" to SAHMs? I mean, it is their choice, right??

Sympathy as in (1)'understanding between people; common feeling : (2)agreement with or approval of an opinion or aim'. It doesn't only mean (3)'feelings of sorrow and pity for someone else's misfortune', which I would expect you to know as an English teacher. Is it not only human to feel (1) for one's fellow (wo)man? or do you have to be scathing of everyone who isn't in the same situation as yourself or makes different choices? Then again (3) would apply to (a) women who don't want to be home with their kids but are forced to due to lack of good day care places, social or family pressure, lack of suitable jobs etc and (b) women who do want to be home with their kids but can't because of financial concerns, social or family pressure, lack of flexible working hours etc.

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Cleo, 'reactionary' doesn't mean what you think it means. It has nothing to do with expecting others to feel bad if their values are different, it means rejecting social or political change and favouring the status quo.

As for 'you want to impose your values', impose assumes the authority to change others' behaviour, which I clearly don't have and am not advocating. Did I not say legislation should only go so far as ensuring choice?

Don't hope for your Mum to want to look after you? Really?

Good heavens, again, not even implied by what I said. In future could you do me the courtesy of asking what I mean if it's not already clear.

But sloppy language choices and (continual) mistaken inferences aside, changing the social environment to make it socially unacceptable for mothers or fathers to monopolise family or work life at the expense of the other is a value I think worth fighting for, in a similar way to the way feminists raised society's consciousness in the 20th century to make the generic 'he' unacceptable. It's not illegal to write generic 'he's now, but society's consciousness has been raised to see how exclusive it is, and it's almost fallen out of practice now. Homophobia is still not illegal as a belief, but in decent societies it's unacceptable.

I'd like an environment where society sees the benefits of equal involvement in work and family, legislates to facilitate it, and criticises those who choose to reject it. If you disagree with the core value I'm talking about then put forward a counter argument.

But don't try and say such a fundamental social issue which touches everyone, is none of other people's business. That's reactionary.

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Oh you guys! I am dying to chim in on this thread, but I dont quite know where to start because the problem is I kind of agree with all of you!

I guess I am so "middle of the road" because I AM so...erm..."middle of the road". I have been a careerwoman (let me tell you now it was pee-easy compared to raising kids! Databases at least have an "off" switch!), I have been a SAHM, and I seem to have managed to wind up as most things in between too.

Milking tax breaks and creating delinquent children aside - above all - and NO offence intended to anyone on this thread whose opinions I consider equally valid and interesting - I do wish women wouldnt tear each other apart quite as much as they do. Someone commented that career women get looked down on (envied) for their ways. I think exactly the same can be said for the SAHMs as well.

I am well experienced, high-levl uni educated, and I would LOVE to be able to combine a career with raising my children. It really is nigh-on impossible here and believe me, I am trying. If I could work school hours and have holidays with them I would have to be at school for 8am - I cant get my youngest to daycare and then get to work for that time, even if my middle one wasnt in yochien and therefore needing to be at school for 9. I could arrange someone to pick him up and babysit him from 2, but is the stress really worth it for a job that is contract based with no chance of promotion and no future?

On the other hand, I could go to work in an office, even if I can find a permanent position rather than a temp one, but what do i then do in the school holidays? This of course is when the kids are old enough to even be at elementary school. If anyone would still be interested in having me after such a break on my CV. And how would my boss feel when one kid gets chicken pox and I am off work for a week or so, swiftly followed by the next one, and then the next one? I know it sounds like I am making excuses and putting up barriers for myself but it really does piss me off when my husband looks down on me for the volunteer work and piecemeal work I manage to do here and there and says it is not "real" work. Yes, he has working mothers in his office but they invariably a) have only one child b) have their mother living close by c) have a husband who doesnt work ridiculous hours with whom they share drop-offs/pick ups etc.

I am working on starting my own business now because as someone said (Zichi I think?) the only way to become an executive as a mother here is to make yourself one! It wouldnt grate on me quite so much but when I came to Japan I was earning almost double my husbands salary. But one of us had to give everything up. It was the right decision - I was at the peak of my career whereas he had much further to go - and has now gone beyond where I used to be - but I cant help but feel looked down upon when in fact I work so damned hard every day, and all night (up 10 times last night with an allergy-ridden toddler, poor little mite.) My dream is to one day own a business and allow women to work in it whatever hours suit them on a job-sharing basis.

This argument is at least 2-3 generations long, in every corner of the developed world, and it doesnt show any signs of changing soon. My 2 wishes above all else: 1) I wish women had the opportunities to follow their dreams, be they career-oriented, home-oriented or - most importantly and elusively here in Japan - a mix of the two. And 2) I wish women would start admiring, respecting and supporting each other regardless of their differences in choice because until we all learn to do that, we cant possibly unite and defeat against the common enemy (men!!! GGRRRRR!!!! ;-) )

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Just to reiterate - that last bit was a joke and I personally love men! oooh - OK, quit now whilst only up to my neck in it!

The common enemy is really a society that leaves women with very few choices bar two - career and no kids, or SAHM.

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1) I wish women had the opportunities to follow their dreams, be they career-oriented, home-oriented or - most importantly and elusively here in Japan - a mix of the two. And 2) I wish women would start admiring, respecting and supporting each other regardless of their differences in choice

I second that.

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Why shouldn't other women be allowed to disagree with your choices? Blatant sexism.

You poor dears with your 3 options. Thats 2 more than men get.

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scotchegg, it's possible to disagree with a person's choice yet still respect it. Saying you want people to feel awkward about their choices if they're different to yours isn't showing much respect.

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Not if the choice is incompatible with your own values. Suggesting your own values should be exempt from criticism, particularly from one gender, combines casual sexism with intellectual cowardice.

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Cleo, do you not understand that education and uni education are not the same thing? One doesn't equal the other. It seems you don't. Again, I will ask you, who said it is a waste to "educate" women?

So by your standards, yochien is okay, but daycare isn't. You did say that someone should be home with the kids... What is the difference? A kid is gone at 3, mom isn't with the kid... If anything, why are these women who stated they want to be home with their kids doing this? Why not teach their kids these skills at home? I don't care if they send their kids - by all means - it is their choice - but who are they to be looking down at working moms when they too aren't with their kids day in and day out.

I thought she was out there because she mustn't waste her education and working is more fulfilling than looking after a kid? Again, with the 'education' thing... You do get that all families aren't mom and dad, right? You do get that some families have to both have both parents working, right? You do get that some women would rather be at work than at home, right? Oh wait, nope, you don't. Which is why we go round and round on this. If anyone here isn't being supportive of choice, it is you. You're comments above makes that obvious. Why does it matter why mom is at work? You are being judgmental and it clear when you use something like 'fulfilling". Who are you to decide what a woman finds fulfilling? Glad you found stay at home fulfilling but not all women do. Why do you have to try and make them feel bad about that? You might not think you are, but trust me, it comes off as very judgemental.

A lifetime of struggling on low incomes in unskilled jobs? I know lots of people do it, my parents did it, their parents did it, I don't want my kids to do it. Not snobbery, realism.

Nah, it is snobbery. And nice to see you will allow your children the "choice" of whom they fall in love with. So much for allowing them options, eh?

Again, I know how my kids got in...recommendation yes, based on grades. No money, no juku, no connections. Great for you and your kids. Thing is, not all kids get in that way - very few do to be honest. Parents send their kids to juku because they think it is what is best - and indeed, I think some SAHM send them there to get them out of the house. I have mentioned more than once that I too don't like the juku system so commenting on it as if I agree with it really is a waste of time.

Oh my oh my oh my. Pot, kettle, black. lol No, not really. I'm not the one who is making false claims like you have to "win" an argument. If you could get it through your head that uni education is not the only form of education and there are many different options out there, I doubt we'd be having this 'debate'. Stay at home by all means, but don't expect me to a) support it (which I currently do with my tax money) b) want to do the same c) question what I find fulfilling

?? why are women who never had kids taking maternity leave? (I'm not really concerned about women who stay home to 'bake cakes'. I'm discussing the ones who stay home to raise kids.)

??? There are women who take maternity leave who go back to work the very minute their leave is over. Rare isn't it because most just quit. Or are forced out. So much for choices for them...

Great. Thanks for the "meaning" of the word. Perhaps you could look up the meaning of "education" and get back to me when you realise that it clearly isn't just about university. Shame you aren't willing to admit you made a mistake with that.

Oh, I also guess you are in the mood to "pick apart people's posts". That was the phrase you used, wasn't it?

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Nicky, the position that you are in is what I fear. There is very little support for moms who want to work - which is why I keep putting off having kids. I have done the research, talked to friends, moms and the like. Japan doesn't offer these choices to the women here like many other countries. France seems to be the "paradise" with free childcare and women being able to decide what they want to do - stay home or work. Japan? You are pretty much screwed. I get annoyed with the snide comments from women here about working moms - not talking about JT but just outside in real life. I have had more than a few coworkers forced out of work because they made the "mistake" of a) getting pregnant or b) tried to come back to work with small kids. Where is the support and tax break for these women? By all means, people (moms or dads) should have the "right" to stay home and look after their kids. However, I don't think I should have to support it via my taxes if moms who choice another life aren't supported.

Hope things works out for you. I've pretty much been told daycare will be nearly impossible (so few in my area) and if I do manage it, I don't think my employees are going to be all that supportive... Every other women who gets pregnant... quits. So much for choice...

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Scotch, I can agree with your views with men only have one option. I don't think it is fair either but please don't lump us all into the same category. More than happy for the men to stay home - though since they also get a tax break here... Grrrr.....

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Why shouldn't other women be allowed to disagree with your choices? Blatant sexism.

Do you just enjoy conflict for the sake of it? I AM a woman! How exactly am I being sexist?! Who said women cant disagree with each other? Just try to understand each others points of view, thats all.

You poor dears with your 3 options. Thats 2 more than men get.

Rubbish. Men also get to choose and have far more freedom in their choices - as the growing number of male contact workers and freeters here suggest. As for 3 options - I wish! Did you even read it? That is my whole point - Combining work and motherhood is NOT an option for most women and choosing to either have a career or have a family is their only choice. Men get to have BOTH AND a maid/Mother at home waiting for them while they go off and shag whoever they want to with no recompense whatsoever as they earn the cash and can support themselves if they need to with no law enforcement demanding they support their estranged wives who have had enough of their BS behaviour. So dont bleat to me that men here (crappy wives excepting as tmarie has pointed out in the past!) have a hard time!

@tmarie - good for you, doing the research and getting the facts, rather than just getting drunk on a bottle of chardonnay at a summer festival and miscalculating your "dates"...ahem! Seriously - the children are the joint-best thing that ever happened to me and I adore them more than life itself - but my God it can be hard to go from being so career-oriented and - if I am honest - self-centered - into having to think about other lives before your own.

Speaking of which, all 3 are crowded around me right now clamouring for attention and a "go" on the PC - so gotta go!

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Nicky, that's the thing. If this was "home", I might have them by now. Most of my friends are all working FT moms and love it. Indeed, they are tired and whatnot but SAHMs are tired so... it seems kids = tired mom no matter what they decide to do. Japan makes moms focus pretty much only on the kids which seems rather unfair - as dad still gets to be pretty selfish. Shame the government hasn't figured out that supporting working moms would help the population issue... But what do I know - I'm just a baby making machine...

Enjoy your night!

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I AM a woman! How exactly am I being sexist?!

You seriously think it's not possible for you to be sexist against women because you are a woman?! Trying to limit people's ability to criticise others based on their gender is sexism. Hope that's clear enough.

Rubbish. Men also get to choose and have far more freedom in their choices - as the growing number of male contact workers and freeters here suggest

Really? How do you explain the difference in the length of maternity leave and paternity leave? How do you explain the difference in numbers of sahm and sahd? Which do you think is more likely to find a spouse: a woman who tells her boyfriends she wants to be a sahm after childbirth or a man who tells his girlfriends he wants to be a sahd after childbirth? If men really have far more freedom of choice, why do we see so few sahf?

As for rising number of male contract workers / freeters - do you have any data to suggest that's because of choice? I've seen lots of articles saying it's because of companies not willing to take the economic risk of offering full-time positions.

Combining work and motherhood for most women is not an option? Why? You may not get the perfect career you dreamed of, and I'd certainly agree that more needs to be done to secure better career stability for women and men who want to take time out to care for children, but do you really think most men have their dream careers? Of course not, the majority make do and go to work to pay the bills.

Do you think it would be as acceptable for a man to say to society, "well, I can't get the exact job I want, so I'm not going to work, and my wife can get a job that isn't the exact one she wants either and support me while I enjoy the fulfillment of raising the kids full time"? I think not.

As for your picture of married life, characterising men as rich lotharios who expect their wives to be subservient maids at home while they're out enjoying orgies with their lovers...erm...do I really need to point out the sexism?

Scotch, I can agree with your views with men only have one option. I don't think it is fair either but please don't lump us all into the same category. More than happy for the men to stay home - though since they also get a tax break here... Grrrr.....

Not lumping, I work with many working mothers so it's a bit hard to understand why so many women here think combining work and parenting is not an option. One of them even has a sahf husband, and frankly that disappoints me as much as sahm.

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Scotch, is many cases in Japan it is NOT an option. Lack of childcare is the main issue. If you don't live near your family and have no one to babysit... If you are deemed to make too much money and can live off your husband's salary (which I fear may be my case as city hall mentioned it), if you don't work "enough" hours a day... you get denied the limited daycare that is out there. With no one to look after your kids, how does a mother get to work? I say mother because in most cases, husbands make more money - and wouldn't have the balls to say they are staying home with their kids. So... with that said, how on earth can I think that combining parenting and work is an option for women in Japan if they don't get a magical slot at daycare?

I would be more than happy for my husband to stay home (he's already been told he WILL take ALL of his paternity leave if we have kids) but since his job is more stable than mine and pays more, common sense says, he continues to work. And he's more than happy to as he enjoys his job and is motivated with goals - probably much more than I am.

If you have an issue with maternity and paternity leave length, take it to the government, not us. I think most of us on the board would be more than happy to have paternity leave extended AND have the men be able to take it without comments. If anyone has an issue with it, it is the men. Many men don't take it because they know it will be talked about at work - not by the women - but by the men. Who are the managers, the bosses... The bullying, snide comments, being taken off the career track... Documented cases out there and why men here are scared to even take a week off, let alone the time they are legally aloud. I mean, they can just look at what happens to the women who take leave and try to come back - NASTY! Some women who take time off and go back to work end up quitting because of the bullying. I know more than a handful. It isn't a sexism thing. It is a problem with the system and society.

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Scotch - when did I ever say anyone has no right to disagree? And when did I ever make it about gender? You are just making that up, and you obviously have some issues of your own that need sorting out before attacking anyone else for theirs.

As for everything else - see tmarie above - she put it far more succinctly than I ever could.

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Nicky, I think he's taking about Cleo. If you go up, Cleo made some pretty questionable comments that could be taken as sexist.

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when did I ever say anyone has no right to disagree? And when did I ever make it about gender?

When you said this:

I wish women would start admiring, respecting and supporting each other regardless of their differences in choice

Why only women? Why do you give men the choice still to disrespect your choices but say women should support them? Is it possible to criticize someone while admiring ad respecting them?

you obviously have some issues of your own that need sorting out

Kindly address your responses to what I say, not speculation about my mental state. That's how debate works.

Marie, I have to hold my hands up to ignorance about the differences in childcare availability in many areas of Tokyo. I absolutely agree that the infrastructure and legislative environment is woefully inadequate. Where I differ with Cleo and Nicky is that I think the norm should be for mothers and fathers to participate equally in childcare, an tr responsibility to pay for it. They seem to be saying the norm should be for one parent to raise the kids and one to work, and they're fighting for a woman's right to make that choice, and saying men have equal or greater choice than they do.

As for take your concerns about the paternity / maternity leave gap to the government - sure, that's the ideal and we need to foster a social environment where men feel less fear (social and career) about demanding equal work / life balance norms to women.

Getting that kind of environment is what I'm trying to do here.

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I think the norm should be for mothers and fathers to participate equally in childcare

As an ideal that's admirable, but unfortunately it doesn't work in real life for most people. If you can make it work in your family - if you both have jobs/careers that allow you equally to take time off to raise a child (alternate days? weeks? a year each?), then that's wonderful. But for the reasons tmarie gives, it does not work for most people and isn't likely to work anytime soon. You may as well argue that men should be given the opportunity to get pregnant and give birth.

Most men would run a mile.

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Marie, I have to hold my hands up to ignorance about the differences in childcare availability in many areas of Tokyo. Actually, Tokyo is legs ahead of the rest if Japan when it comes to childcare options - and I'm not in Tokyo though I wish I were as I think getting child care would be easier.

While I can understand Nicky's "why can't respect each other" comment, I personally get sick and tired of being told that I need to "support" other women. No, I don't. I think we need to support people, not a gender. They can do what they like but if I have issues with it, I see no reason why I can't comment as if the person were a man and I disagreed with what they were saying/doing... I don't have to 100% agree with what all women do, their opinions, their feelings. This is why women don't agree on this topic. Some think SAHM are lazy while others think working moms are selfish. Whatever. Just offer equal support for whatever choice they want to make and be done with it. Thing is, there isn't equality with it, their is much less support for working moms and well, hence my opinions on the whole thing.

Where I differ with Cleo and Nicky is that I think the norm should be for mothers and fathers to participate equally in childcare, an tr responsibility to pay for it. I don't think either would disagree with you on that to be honest.

They seem to be saying the norm should be for one parent to raise the kids and one to work, and they're fighting for a woman's right to make that choice, and saying men have equal or greater choice than they do. I can't speak for Nicky but if you read the above, this is where Cleo and I clash - and we always do. As I feel the same as you do. More than happy to share the child raising with my husband. Thing is, this country makes it so damn difficult for a) fathers to do their fair share at home and b) mothers to do their fair share of bring in an income. It sucks. I hope it changes. It has to. Women aren't having kids because of it - and various other reasons of course but I haven't popped any out and this is the main reason why. I want to work. I want my husband to be able to help raise any kids we have. The way the system is now? Not likely. It isn't fair for women AND men!

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I was fortunate enough as a father to be able to stay home a lot with my kids when they were small. The laws of my country mandates that both parents have the same right to maternal/paternal leave. So if the father would not be using his time off it will not be available to the mother, thus you would in essence be robbing your child of those months of parental bonding time".

It is hard work to take care of a toddler and a baby whether you are man or woman, but the rewards are also priceless. I would not have that time undone for anything in the world. But I am not sure I would have the power to go trough with it again :-)

I think each family have to find their own way on how to balance career, child care and work. But the opportunities should, of course be equal for all.

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