The last time we remember, Japan wasn’t a “third world” country, battling women’s issues due to social constraints, but do not be fooled in thinking that a developed country is free from gender inequality. Surprisingly, statistics speak otherwise and news reveals scandals. Coming under much criticism from the medical academia body and the rest of the world, the country has come under great scrutiny regarding the institutional barriers that prevent women from joining certain technical fields, like medicine for example. Long dominated by men, an investigation at the Tokyo Medical University had revealed that their scores were tampered with to keep the number of women students at only 30 percent.
In 2017, Japan fell at the rank of 114 out of 144 countries in WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index, sandwiched between Guinea and Ethiopia (developing countries)
Truth be told, Japan as a country is severely lagging behind in the sphere of gender equality as compared to fellow developed countries with regards to working women. Today, Japan boasts being one of the most affluent, advanced and democratic countries in the world, but in the sphere of the status of women, it has failed. With a great economy, there are no doubts that a country like this could also benefit from women participating in every sector of the workforce. In 2017, Japan fell at the rank of 114 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, sandwiched between Guinea and Ethiopia (developing countries).
Japanese women are missing from high profile jobs STEM, management and government sectors
Much of the blame goes to Japanese hiring practices and the work culture that requires employees to work for the same company for their entire life. These also clash with the cultural expectation of women being the primary caregiver to children and the elderly. Moreover, finding good childcare options that are affordable is a massive struggle for working and studying mothers. Although the economic prospects have improved for Japanese women over the course of the years, they are missing in high-profile jobs within the government as well as in management, science, and technology sectors. While women are quite well-represented in fields like engineering, agriculture, dentistry, nursing, and pharmaceutical studies, they are lagging behind in medicine according to an analysis of Education Ministry statistics by Kyoko Tanebe of the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women.
The medical community’s development was dominated by men and lacks the views of women
Another report in 2017 showed that only 13 percent of women make up managerial positions, compared to 44 percent in the US. In addition to this, a poll by Reuters made the discovery that three-quarters of Japanese companies have no women in their senior executive positions. Over half of patients in Japan are women and if the medical body is made up of mostly men, how could they ever understand women and their illnesses? Dr. Fumi Tsutsui, an anesthesiologist stated that “The medical community’s development was dominated by men and lacks the views of women. The majority of patients are women, and the medical community needs to increase diversity by nurturing female medical professionals.” Only 20 percent of Japanese doctors are female, in Australia, it’s 39.4 percent. Urologist Doctor Yoshiko Maeda said, “I was so angry because Japan still makes decisions on baseless reasons like the fact that women can’t do things just because they’re women. Japan is a very male-dominated society so even after women become doctors there is always gender bias — such as discrimination against women — and it probably gets harder as they get older.”
Japan ranks 121 out of 153 in WEF’s 2020 global gender gap index
In 2013, the plan was to add 7.1 million employees which could, in turn, raise Japan’s GDP by 13 percent. The problem is that many Japanese women work low-paid and part-time jobs, especially those who are new to the workforce, while the appointment of female executives in companies moving at a glacial rate. There is much to be done in the way women are perceived as this poll conducted in 2016 revealed that 5 percent of men surveyed agreed with the idea that “women should stay at home. Also, the country doesn’t do working women any favors since Japan ranks 121 out of 153 in WEF’s 2020 global gender index. Therefore, it is high time an economically wealthy country like Japan tap into the female workforce since a standard of living simply cannot be measured with the way men live, It must include women too, working who live, study and work, making them an integral part of the national workforce, all while giving them the quality of life they deserve.
Image credit: EAIE