Why is it only the responsiblity of men?

Honestly I do not understand why not more women are found in the business environment, especially now with the financial downturn there is even a stronger need to be a business women. In 2009 Japan was ranking 101st in the “gender gap index” study by the World Economic Forum (international nonprofit group that measured the economic opportunities, political empowerment of women by nation). Iceland was number one, and as another example the U.S. was listed as 31. Japanese women make up just 9 percent of senior officials and managers, for sure a tiny share compared with other countries: U.S. 43 percent, 17 percent in China and 38 percent in France (according to Catalyst Inc.,). Where have the Japanese women gone?
Honestly I do not understand why not more women make sure they have their own career. Especially now with less stability at work, global financial downturn, how come many women even prefer to shift all the financial responsibility to their husband? If you respect and love your husband, you want to share the pressure for making a living. I am shocked to see that according the the Mainichi Daily News recently more women think wives should stay at home to focus on housework and childcare. Yes, childcare is an important and timeconsuming duty, but one should consider the consequences for the husband too. Furthermore as much as 47.9% of women under 30 years old (increased by 12.2 points!!) are neglecting from my viewpoint their respect towards their partner. Everyone knows that providing for a family is hard, stressful work, but how come women tend to neglect their love and repects for their husbands and just shift the responsibility completely?
I agree with Katsuma san that Japan had been isolated from global changes in sexual equality for so long that most people are simply not used to dealing with diversity, including foreigners and the disabled, not just women (interview in LA Times). Building up a career is not easy and furthermore finding a job after having giving birth to a child seems to be a nightmare. I do hope so much that Kazuma san is right in her interview: “If you look at the economic indicators for women in Japan, we are not going backward compared to 10 years ago. It’s just that progress has been slow compared to the rapid progress elsewhere.” I really do wish more women would show appreciation and love for their partner, making sure to support the household. Isn’t this what a partnership is all about?

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

10 thoughts on “Why is it only the responsiblity of men?

  1. You are also making a value judgment that a wife who does not work is somehow “not supporting” her husband. Some couples agree on a division of responsibility — sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. (My wife works part-time in the US.) If jobs are scarce, most Japanese couples (and many US couples) would opt to send the husband into the workforce. Some of the women in the survey are probably amaekko who what the husband to take care of them; some may see their more important role in nurturing children; and there are likely many other reasons. Japanese society is not too different from Germany, where the female role was “Kinder, Kuchen, Kirche” (if I remember my Deutsch).
    My Japanese parent company has a “mom-back” program to encourage females to return to the workplace. Every company in the global economy needs the best and brightest and Japan has demographic issues to address for productivity.

    • Dear TelKontar,

      thank you for taking time for your comment.
      You are right for my parents generation it was expected that the woman stays at home to take care of the husband.
      Please do understand me right, I believe bringing up children is a very tough job. From my viewpoint I want to stress as long as a partner is not working and shifting all the financial responisbility to the partner, complains about lack of income or worries about financial future are unfair. Additionally not all stay home wifes have children…

      All the best,

      Sibylle Ito

  2. Hi Sybille,
    because the job market is so tough, most companies even more prefer to hire men. I don’t know how it is in a high-tech field like yours, but for the “little people” the situation looks more or less like that – my boss flat out refuses to hire women of child bearing age who have no children (because they’ll get pregnant), and then refuses to hire women who have children (because kids get sick). My in-laws who run their own business have similar, unwritten of course, policies.

    • Dear Anna,
      thank you very much for your comment. I have experienced myselfs the comments of why not hiring women, foreigners… or whatever might pop up. Plus I agree that it is very hard to get a good job, but this does not only apply for women. My concern for every couple is that as long as it is so challenging to make a living, I believe that it is too risky to focus only on one income. No one can stand for a longer period solely on one leg, two legs are more stable.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

      Sibylle Ito

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your view, Sibylle.
    I was surprised to learn that now more women think wives should stay at home.
    While I’d been away from Japan, Japan seems to have changed.

    My husband also complains that younger generation in his company don’t have aspirations to do a better job or make progress at work (whether women or men).

    My generation (I’m turning 39 soon) was at the turning point of Japanese economy.
    My husband (42yrs old) grew up in very good economy and they are kinda dreamers.

    However, the younger generation (under 30’s) encountered and went through the economic disaster. They cannot have dreams. They are more realistic(?).
    They think it’s OK even if their income is a bit low. Instead of it, they don’t have philosophies or aspirations about work.
    They go to work in order to make a living.
    My husband is different; He works because he loves it. While he was unemployed (he’d been through it a few times), he was always working at home on his own projects.

    Maybe, wives work if they really need to.
    But they may think it’s OK not to work as long as they have some savings cuz they don’t seek dreams or goals in business world.

    • Dear Kaori,

      great to hear from you! As for the example of the younger generation just working to make a living, it sounds hard and I cannot imagine spending at least a 9 to 10 hour working day with something I do not truly enjoy.
      I guess we might see then some changes with some women, when the family savings are gone and staying at home is no more affordable. Let’s see what happens in the next five years.

  4. “Honestly I do not understand why not more women make sure they have their own career.”
    Why not? Simply because most companies will not hire them. Plain and simple.

    • Dear Anna,

      thank you very much for your comment. Yes, it is true that not all companies might be so open for hiring. At the same time, from my perspective knowing and experiencing how tough the job market is, for the same women it should be an eyeopener to look harder, further and wider in the job market. Just because a target is not easily reachable, it does not mean it cannot be reached.

  5. Please, please tell it to my wife!!!

    Anyway, seriousely, thanks for that. I just RTed your link to this, and now will have to send it to @SynterGrow – for my J-tweeps.

    For what its worth, we have no kids, so my wife is not actually bound by “homemaking” responsibilities, as such. On the other hand, after 2 years in the U.S., she returned to Osaka with great English – and zero job-market for a 30+ Japanese female educated bilingual.

    Now we are both over forty, she has been unemployed for more than ten years, me, for nearly one year – and I actually agree with her: my prospects are far higher than hers…

    • Dear Saul,

      thanks for taking time to comment. The job market is though at the moment and I wish you both lots of energy to keep exploring the “hidden” opportunities.
      All the best,


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