Gender and the workplace

Authored by: Helen Macnaughtan

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that the Japanese workplace remains deeply gendered despite increasing calls for gender equality and the incremental development of employment equality legislation since the mid-1980s. Japanese institutions continue to draw social and economic advantages from a gendered division of labour, with women and men occupying complementary (re)productive roles at work and at home. Although there are signs of gradual progress for working women in Japan, there remains a core employment model that continues to reproduce inherent gender bias in workplace attitudes, behaviours, and practices for both sexes. This chapter questions the degree to which recent focus on expanding female employment in Japan is enough to dismantle gender segregation or challenge mainstream male employment. It first offers an ideological framework for understanding how workplace gendering continues to be reproduced in Japan, then outlines how the gendered employment model developed during the postwar decades, and ends with an analysis of how this continues to play out for women and men in the Japanese workplace.

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