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What’s the best way to close the gender gap in Japan? Japanese women weigh in

15 Comments
By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Japan–like many nations–has a number of sociological issues that need addressing, and one of the big ones is the gender gap. Though we’re well into the twenty-first century and we’ve come a long way since the twentieth, there are still some very persistent social norms in work and family life that have been hard to change, and which often make women feel at a disadvantage compared to men.

So what can be done to close the gap? Job-networking social media platform LinkedIn asked 750 women, and got some interesting answers.

The company conducted a survey online in September, asking women between the ages of 18-65 questions about their work and life, but some of the most telling responses regarded the gender gap. For example, when asked about gender equality, only seven percent of women said, “I think we have plenty of equality.” In contrast, 70 percent said, “The government needs to do more to address the gender gap”.

It’s already been made clear by a previous survey that many people in Japan–including men–are aware of a divide between the genders, but what hasn’t been asked is what people think should be done about it. LinkedIn asked their survey respondents, and more than half said that in order to alleviate the gender gap, “Equal sharing of housework between men and women should be promoted.”

This is an issue that many people are probably familiar with by now. In Japan, the general expectation, even if it’s just a subconscious tendency, is that women should be in charge of taking care of the house and family, including cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing, even if they also work full time. Obviously this isn’t exactly fair, as each of those tasks in themselves are enormous emotional and physical burdens, not to mention time-consuming. One working mother who shared her schedule with a Japanese magazine had to get up at four in the morning every day to get everything done, and that’s without any time for herself at all.

Of course, that’s not to say that men aren’t helping at all, and it does seem like more men are stepping up the plate lately, especially younger men. Still, enough women are struggling to juggle home and work that it’s a consistent complaint that comes up whenever these types of surveys are conducted.

Normalizing men taking on more of these burdens, even if it’s just a little bit, might actually have a tremendous influence on the gender gap, because it’s closely related to a lot of other problems facing women and Japanese society as a whole. It may improve workplace conditions or hiring practices for women by removing the stereotype that women are unreliable workers if they have children to look after. That may allow for women to take on higher-paid and higher-level positions, which might eventually close the wage gap. And it may also help with Japan’s quickly aging population; with less stigma, women will feel less pressured to choose between childbirth and careers.

But that wasn’t the only solution that the women surveyed supplied. Many suggested that male-dominated positions, including government jobs, should be easier for women to access too. 43 percent said, “There should be more guidance for women to take on traditionally male jobs and government positions, and more efforts to increase the number of women working in those positions,” and 38 percent said, “We should raise the percentage of women in the Diet.” The government has made some efforts towards this, especially with elected positions, but certainly more could be done.

On another note, 35 percent of women suggested that the government should invest more money in high-quality daycares, so that both parents can feel free to work if they so choose. The lack of daycare spots in Japan is also a major problem, because women who want to work often can’t because there are not enough quality daycares throughout the country to accommodate all the children who need them, even with a low rate of birth in the country.

These things all affect women in the workforce, as revealed by other questions posed in the survey. 69 percent of women said that balancing work and their personal life was hindering their opportunities within their organizations, and others said that “societal expectations of housework and child-rearing” (51 percent), “not having enough support in the household” (44 percent), and “not having enough support within their organization” (24 percent) were also obstacles for career advancement.

These factors could be leading to not only less employment, but less advancement for women. Only 47 percent of the respondents said they currently work, and of those, most said that within their organization, most of the women were low-level workers. Only 14 percent said that half or more of the upper management positions in their companies were filled by women, yet another indication of the gender gap.

However, the interesting thing is that when asked about their own career aspirations, most of the respondents did not want upper level positions. 42 percent wished to maintain their current positions, and 25 percent said they would like some kind of advancement, but not in the form of managerial positions. Perhaps these women are seeking more pay raises or more advanced responsibilities, though the survey did not seem to ask.

Regardless, women seem to be feeling a distinct gap between them and their male counterparts. And while closing that gap probably isn’t quite as simple as having men do more housework, having Japanese society moving more towards equal sharing of household and family responsibilities as well as work responsibilities seems like it could go a long way towards making women feel more equal to men.

Source: Niconico News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Survey says more than 70 percent of Japanese people think gender inequality exists in Japan

-- Survey shows how Japanese couples feel about spending so much time together sheltering in place

-- Over 50 percent of single Japanese women in their 20s struggle to make ends meet, survey says

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Japanese men better beware.

Japanese women are waking up.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I regularly work with our US affiliate and the top positions are 70-80% legal. Once there are women in leadership it attracts other female talent so it is kind of a tipping point. One major cultural difference however is the incredible amount of time that Japanese schools require of mothers to make "the right" bento, attend school events and volunteer. Schools need to be more open to fathers handling these roles or just getting rid of the rigidity.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

70-80% female!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I already see the thumbs-downs coming, but someone has to point this out.

“Equal sharing of housework between men and women should be promoted.”

I think this is not something the government can do something about. Moreover, studies find that men provide 1.6 times as much overtime as women in the workforce.

Source:

https://www.nippon.com/en/japan-data/h00523/study-finds-japanese-men-do-1-6-times-as-much-overtime-as-women.html

One working mother who shared her schedule with a Japanese magazine had to get up at four in the morning every day to get everything done, and that’s without any time for herself at all.

One working father, who happens to be me, has to get up at 5 and studies after work because his family expects him to climb ranks at his company and/or make more money on the side. And that's without any time for himself at all. This woman's example speaks in no way for every woman, just like my example doesn't speak for every man.

Or am I supposed to take this as a "Women just want free time for themselves"?

69 percent of women said that balancing work and their personal life was hindering their opportunities within their organizations

“societal expectations of housework and child-rearing”

“The government needs to do more to address the gender gap”.

Just like for men, who are expected to - and do - work more than women on average. Maybe this is why men are never home.

43 percent said, “There should be more guidance for women to take on traditionally male jobs and government positions, and more efforts to increase the number of women working in those positions,” and 38 percent said, “We should raise the percentage of women in the Diet.”

And here I ask, do a majority of women actually want to do these jobs? If not, should we force them into these positions?

Only 47 percent of the respondents said they currently work

Way to show that the full-time working mother is in no way, shape or form a majority in this debate. Like so often.

most said that within their organization, most of the women were low-level workers

Many women who are employed tend to be part-timers as for tax and fuyo-reasons. Also, this can be based on perception as part-timers are usually surrounded by other part-timers which tend to be low-level workers.

However, the interesting thing is that when asked about their own career aspirations, most of the respondents did not want upper level positions. 42 percent wished to maintain their current positions, and 25 percent said they would like some kind of advancement, but not in the form of managerial positions

And here we have the real reason for the "gender gap". If you have an applicant ratio of women 1:3 men, which seems to be caused mostly from women deliberately choosing not to apply for said position according to this article, then this should be hardly an inequality. The "gender gap" is caused by womens' decisions in Japan just like it is in the western world.

It's amusing to see an article that promotes a narrative - only to dismantle it later itself.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Well one of the biggest things that can be done is to teach Japanese women what sexism is.

My mother certainly instilled it in me and into my sisters and I saw it going in all around me growing up.

If women also think in a sexist fashion and teach it to their children (sons be macho, girls be dainty and weak and cute) then thats half the problem.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Furan nails this for me. Too many women in Japan like it the way it is. You cannot look at Japan through the lens of (Western) feminism which blindly assumes all women are ambitious and fighting for advancement. Women who do not want to work are not "oppressed" by not being in a management position. Too many women do not want to put the hours and effort in to deserve one. According to the women interviewed in this piece, they don't even want to be managers. When some expert comes along to tell us how sexist Japan is, the first think they look at though is the number of female managers. This naturally results in Japan ranking 120th in the world for treatment of women, down there with countries with FGM and no education for girls.

It should go without saying that ambitious women can be huge losers in this society. I say "can be" because the lack of them means there are few other ambitious women to compete with. Big fish in a little pond, etc.

fwiw, I only work about 25 hours a week on average, massively biased toward when I have a deadline. I could work more to pay for fancy things, extravagant holidays, or an expensive education for my kids, but I cannot be bothered. We do well enough. If Japanese women don't want extra stress from pursuing a career and have other priorities, I fully understand it. Why spend most of your life at work if you don't have to?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

They could do what the men do and marry someone who'll stay at home and do the housework.

However, most women seem reluctant to do that for some reason and generally choose men who earn more than them.

It happens worldwide: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Franco_Simonetti2/publication/340068405_Sex_Differences_in_Mate_Preferences_Across_45_Countries_A_Large-Scale_Replication/links/5e7568b792851cf2719a3e9d/Sex-Differences-in-Mate-Preferences-Across-45-Countries-A-Large-Scale-Replication.pdf

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kohakuebisu

Another side of the coin is that due to sexism and low pay or hope for a real career, women dont bother.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I just read this when on the background the news was discussing the 89 years old lady who at this age! is the only person to hold a position of Special Investigator (don't know how to translate it 特別調査役) at Daiichi Seimei, and was arrested for defrauding clients of 19 oku yen (about 19 million dollars).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The problem is japanese women do t speak up about it. It’s enabling and victim playing all at once. Only they can make the change but do they even want to...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A lot of Japanese girls just want to live the disney princess fantasy, have everything paid for while they go shopping. First of all they need to be instilled some proper ambitions.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

As I have been saying for 30yrs now, & the article bears this out BIG TIME, the vast MAJORITY of women in Japan DO NOT want to be come salaymen!!!!

Yet we have this title:

What’s the best way to close the gender gap in Japan? Japanese women weigh in

And the survey a whopping 47% of women interviewed DONT even work outside the home!!......what the.....

And those that actually work 42% want NO CHANGE, no promotion etc they dont want to bridge any gap CLEARLY! Article says 25% of those working would some advancement but have NO interest in advancing into management, so folks that is close to 70% (I suspect this number in quite a bit higher actually) that have little to NO interest in climbing the corporate ladder......

So why are we even bothering to talk about a topic that women arent actually even interested in for the most part...

My guess is maybe 10% of working women are interested in career advancement roughly so it is INSANE to think that management or govt positions goals should be to have about 50% men & women that would be HIGHLY discriminatory against MEN.......I digress.

And about the men helping out at home, I say great do it IF you can get home at a decent hour, actually have a weekend off.......but the reality is men are not home early enough weekdays for sure!! And dont get me started how the vast majority of men are AT BEST tolerated at home yet nary a wood or care fathers in this society, just sayin!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Must be done immediately. Japan is too behind times.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kohakuebisuNov. 13 12:56 pm JST

Furan nails this for me. Too many women in Japan like it the way it is.

Or is it that they simply don't know there are any other possibilities?

Don't be so quick to say that women don't want to have a career or that they like things the way they are. I am not sure how honest women are with men when they discuss these topics, but I almost never hear women express the view that they actually like that they have so few choices.

Most women who want children don't want to work and raise children at the same time - Japan's work culture makes that such a daunting task that they see it as impossible. Women therefore think their only choice is between having children or having a career. The way I see it, most chose children, and then state that they don't want to work because they know cannot realistically do both.

If you asked women the question in another way, e.g., "If good childcare where cheap and readily available, if the work culture permitted you to split your duties, and if your husband were available to help, would you like to have a career?" the answer would be very different.

One thing Japanese are is pragmatic. They don't dwell on things that cannot be and instead forge ahead and make the most of what they have. If women think they can't both have children and a career, then they will pick one or the other and do their best in that choice.

The few women who do make the leap and try to have both are superwomen. I know a few and I have no idea where they get their energy from. They are amazing. They are also unusual, because I don't think very many people are willing to make the kinds of sacrifices that they do.

This also goes for dads who risk their career stagnating by standing up to their boss and going home on time. There are a few of them out there, and their sacrifices aren't nearly appreciated enough.

The government can't change people's views on gender roles, but it can provide cheap and good day care options and better regulate overtime. The 80 hour cap was a joke, and there are still way too many black companies getting away with working people to death.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Moreover, studies find that men provide 1.6 times as much overtime as women in the workforce.

The problem with using this metric here in Japan is it means being at the workplace as opposed to actually doing work.

A lot of Japanese girls just want to live the disney princess fantasy, have everything paid for while they go shopping. First of all they need to be instilled some proper ambitions.

Hot the nail on the head.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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