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Male and female workers in Japan 2008/9/4 09:04

This is already bothering me for quite a while now.

I read a research-book about the topic, but the book was from 1995, so I wonder if it's still the case now or what might have changed.

I'd like to know, how the situation of female graduates/workers nowadays in Japan is, also in comparison to male workers.

In my book it was said, most females end up being Office Ladies, who don't have many chances to promote themselves in their company (means: getting higher positions), because the company expects them anyway to be married and with children soon and thus leaving the company.

I heard, females more and more get chances to work in a company not as an OL, but, same to male workers, as someone, who can promote herself and achieve higher positions. Even if she marries and gets children, getting the chance to get back to the company again, etc.

But this still seems to be in it's early shoes, as I recognize, that some of my Japanese female friends don't think, that they can achieve a high position in a company in Japan and would maybe be better off to marry soon, as some of them said...

What is really the case?

I'm from Germany, here most females don't depend on marriage anymore, because most of them know, there are chances to achieve a good job.
So, this difference to Japan is interesting for me.

Anybody here who could shed some more light on it?
Experiences, etc.?

I'll be in Japan soon, so of course I'd like to try research by myself, but a little bit input in advance would be appreciated :)

I hope, my question is understandable?
Sorry for my English!!
by Sasori  

female 2008/9/4 22:04
Although some larger companies are making an effort to accomodate women who want to develope their career over the long run, educated women more often than not quit their jobs and raise a family.

It is changing slowly, but not as fast as in other countries.

There are many women in Japan who are committed to their careers (as well as family in some cases), so if you are coming to Japan and wonder how you will be treated, I wouldn`t worry.

I`ve been here for 6 years and have worked in a small company in the country as well as a major Japanese company and have never had any problems.
by girl engineer rate this post as useful

Many 2008/9/4 22:14
Many things still haven't changed in regards to gender differences, especially in the workplace. Things probably are a tad better than before (from the time that book was written) but not so much. The glass ceiling is still really thick compared to other western countries and when you look at the male-female proportion of upper level management, it's laughable how little change that has occurred.
by Trenton rate this post as useful

. 2008/9/4 22:26
Compared to 12 years ago I would say things are changing. I know many Japanese female friends who break the mold of the regular Office Lady. They're working hard, advancing and don't plan to retire anytime soon with or without marriage.
by John rate this post as useful

Too Bad 2008/9/4 22:33
The existing gender structure and gender roles in society and the workplace have served Japan well. The nation has harmoniuus social environment and is the second largest economy. There are very few "broken families" in contrast to the USA. As Japan changes and "westernizes" with regard to gender roles we will witness more strife and dysfunction in the family. Mothers should be at home raising the children.
by Conservative rate this post as useful

changing but still not equal... 2008/9/5 03:34
Japan has changed to some degree but for the most part Japan still has it's business roles differences among men and women and in every daily life.

As a new person, a woman and a foreigner it can be easier or harder depending on your situation and employment in Japan. Yes some have had success and others have not.

I would say give it a try and see what happens if you are really serious about going and working their.

Good luck on your quest for success where ever that might be. :)
by Hiro rate this post as useful

women workers 2008/9/5 04:38
Some companies give priority to women. Toyoko Inn, for example,has women managers in most-if not all- of their hotels and the desk staff are mostly women. It might well be that they pay them less than men but then women in non-union businesses are also paid less than men in many European countries, the USA etc. By the way in Japan as in Europe women were working outside their homes,sometime in their own business, many centuries ago. Raising the youngest children and doing housekeeping work, until very recently, was done by grand parents--who didn't have a pension--and by the oldest children while the mother and father worked in fields or at their/or someone else, business etc. Stay-at-home mothers is, historically, relatively new (starting after WWI and mostly after WWII).
One of my own great-great grandmothers started her own business way back in mid-19th century Europe. There are lots of documentation about working women (outside their home)in medieval Europe but also in various continents.
by Red frog rate this post as useful

harmonious? really? 2008/9/5 06:53
Conservative- "Japan has a harmonious social environment"? By what definition? Have you followed the news of all the random knife attacks this year, or the number of young people who have killed family members in the last couple of years? How about Japan's extremely high suicide rate? You seem to be viewing the country through rose-coloured glasses.

There may be fewer "broken marriages" here but I would say that the number of unhappy marriages is relatively high.
by SHU rate this post as useful

. 2008/9/5 15:05
I would say that things haven't changed since 1995, the year the book on topic was written, but I would also say that the book is a bit misleading.

I've been working on and off since 1984. In those days, females already had plenty of opportunities to achieve careers equally to males, however, it always has been and still is depending on the field and company.

Just as a mere example, fields like teaching has been providing equal opportunities for a long time. There always have been female school principles and they would keep on working while being married and having children. Schools systematically have provided paid vacation for them during that time. There are a lot of companies and organizations from various fields that are like this.

Then some work places provide equal opportunities, but often the characteristics of their job make it tougher for workers to stay at home for a whole year (for birth and childcare) and then come back to the same job again.

Another factor lies outside their offices. Husbands may not be as understanding or cooperative. Even if he likes the idea of his wife working, he may not want to go and pick up their children and do the housework when she's not available. Or typically, his working environment may not allow him to do so. Japanese jobs don't run 9 to 5. They often run 9 to midnight or more.

This also makes it tougher for the females. As she achieves higher position, she would typically need to attend power dinners and business trips which makes it difficult for her to go home and breast-feed her baby or tuck the toddler to bed or run to school when the teenager is in trouble.

And nurseries aren't really catching up. Very few can keep the children until late at night. Also child support for single parents (especially for father and child families with no mother) is very poor.

So while the law confirms equal rights for women, the society or facilities may not always follow suit. But I do have a lot of Japanese female friends who are raising children while working full time and achieving manager class positions. Few but some make more money than their husbands.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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