They May Deliver The Future Of Technology but Japanese Firms are Dinosaurs of Gender Equality in the Workplace

Male dominated silver figures Over half of all working women in Japan are part-time non-regular workers, many of whom have returned to work after having children. Very few men take paternity leave and these women face an uphill struggle, despite the introduction of equal opportunities, as social attitudes on childcare are traditional with patchy provisions for working women. Men even have tax disincentives applied if their wives earn above a certain limit, meaning there are few female breadwinners and women are mostly employed in clerical and customer service roles.  This makes Japan a bit of an anomaly in Asia which has a large number of women in banking. Female managers and board members are ‘conspicuously absent’ according to George Olcott of Cambridge University, who helped run several Japanese companies. In fact women who attend more academically rigorous four year universities are less likely to work than those who attend two year colleges. He says that those women who are in a senior position are obliged  to act in a non-threatening way due to pressure from women in clerical positions – a pressure not put on men in the same position. Some women even resigned after being promoted because they felt uncomfortable in their new role. Real change only comes with foreign take-overs which normally result in an increase of female managers and improvement of working conditions for women.

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