Before 1985, you could hardly find a Japanese woman in business doing anything more than “office lady” activities: tea serving, copy making, paper filing, etc. As a foreign manager back in the day, I was told not to give them anything outside of that, since they were not capable. WHAT!?!?!? I needed help, and I knew these women were absolutely capable of handling more. CarterJMRN has been following trends related to “women in the workplace” for over two decades now; a few key facts show what progress has been made, and how much still needs to be done! The good news is that foreign companies in particular stand to benefit from the slow pace of change related to women in Japan, whether viewed through the lens of recruiting good employees or expanding loyal customers. Women in the workplace – a slow process that may finally be picking up I’ve watched over the years as:
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect in Japan in 1986, paving the way for women to advance to higher-level positions.
- Kathy Matsui of Goldman Sachs coined the term “womenomics” in 1999, making a strong case through her research that empowering Japanese women in the workplace will help revive the Japanese economy.
- Labor market reform in 2007 was enacted to promote a higher percentage of married women aged 25~44 in the workforce (to 70%) by 2017.
- It is still difficult for Japanese women with children to remain in the workforce.
- Women still make less money than their male counterparts.
- It is still rare to find women in top positions.