Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Meanwhile, in Japan

The Japanese government wants to have more women in management positions. It even wants to have more gender equality! More daycare!

Isn't that wonderful? The only not-so wonderful part of the whole campaign is that its origins have nothing really to do with women's rights but with other concerns, important concerns. That's how women usually get rights: as a side-effect of something that is not seen as trivial women's matters. In the case of Japan it's the dropping birth rates. The Japanese want to make having more children appealing for women and they also want to have more women working. That requires making these options more attractive for women.

Only ten percent of the Japanese upper management currently consists of women, by the way. Two thirds of Japanese women stop working after they have children, though the average number of children per family is very low. This counterintuitive combination hints at the possibility that so many women drop out of the labor force because it's a hostile place for Japanese mothers to be.