Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan
- Mito Akiyoshi (Professor of Sociology at Senshu University)
Beyond the Gender Gap in Japan (Gill Steel, ed. University of Michigan Press, 2019) asks, why do Japanese women enjoy a high sense of well-being in a context of inequality? This volume brings together researchers from across the social sciences to investigate this question. The authors analyze women’s values and the lived experiences at home, in the family, at work, in their leisure time, and in politics and policy-making. Their research shows that the state and firms have blurred “the public” and “the private” in postwar Japan, constraining individuals’ lives, and reveals the uneven pace of change across areas of social and political life. Yet, despite these constraints, diversification in how people live and how they manage their lives is evident, demonstrating the various ways that people are adapting to ‘constrained choice.’ The research also shows the various ways that women are exercising voice and agency, contributing to their sense of well-being. Covering a significant breadth of material, the book presents comprehensive findings that use a variety of research methods—public opinion surveys, in-depth interviews, a life history, and participant observation—and, in doing so, look beyond Japan’s perennially low rankings in gender equality indices to demonstrate the diversity underneath, questioning some of the stereotypical assumptions about women in Japan.
Professor of Sociology at Senshu University
Mito Akiyoshi is Professor of Sociology at Senshu University. She has written on technology and inequality, and recently coauthored “What Determines the Perception of Fairness Regarding Household Division of Labor between Spouses?” (with Mayumi Nakamura, PLoS ONE 10 (7): e0132608). She worked for NTT Data as a systems engineer before undertaking graduate study at the University of Chicago, where her doctoral dissertation was about the diffusion of the Internet in Japan. She is currently conducting research on public engagement issues regarding the siting of a nuclear waste disposal facility.