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Lack of Aspirations or Deprived Opportunities? Slow Progress for Women in Management and Corporate Barriers in Japan
- Kumiko Nemoto (Associate professor of sociology at Western Kentucky University)
In Japan, a few changes have occurred in the last two decades regarding women’s employment, including an increase in the number of highly educated women in the workforce as well as the government’s implementation of laws and policies promoting equal employment and women’s reconciliation of work with family. More than half of the large Japanese firms now employ positive action programs for the hiring and promotion of women. The recent increase in foreign investment and the growth of liberalization reforms have contributed to the disruption of the traditional Japanese employment system. However, regardless of its high levels of economic development and the modernization of its institutions and customs, Japan continues to lag far behind other nations in women’s social and economic status and power.
Professor Nemoto discusses Japan’s recent changes as well as contradictory and pervasive barriers that have shaped women’s status in the corporate hierarchy, especially the low rate of women managers, by looking at governmental policy, legal changes, corporate responses, organizational customs, and women’s career aspirations in Japan. Her talk addresses the question of whether the low rate of women mangers and overall low status of educated women in Japan are likely to improve, allowing Japan to catch up with Western countries such as the United States, and what is lacking in the current governmental, corporate, and educational approaches to women’s employment in Japan.
Associate professor of sociology at Western Kentucky University
Kumiko Nemoto is an associate professor of sociology at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Nemoto was awarded an Abe Fellowship for a comparative study of gender equality. She earned a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin after finishing her BA and MA at Hitotsubashi University in Japan. She specializes in gender, work, family, and organizations in Japan and the United States. She has recently published “When Culture Resists Progress: Masculine Organizational Culture and Its Impacts on the Vertical Segregation of Women in Japanese Companies” in Work, Employment & Society (2012), “Long Work Hours and the Corporate Gender Divide in Japan” in Gender, Work & Organization (forthcoming), “Never-Married Employed Men’s Gender Beliefs and Ambivalence Toward Matrimony in Japan” in Journal of Family Issues (forthcoming), and “Postponed Marriage: Exploring Women’s Views of Matrimony and Work in Japan” in Gender & Society (2008). She is completing her book, Few Women to Look Up To: Organizational Inertia, the Lack of High-Powered Women, and Sex Segregation in Japanese Companies. (for more information please visit http://www.wku.edu/sociology/staff/kumiko_nemoto)