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Only Fifths Career Women in Japan Feel Improvement at Work since Abe’s Promise

February 7, 2018

Five years after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe first pledged to create a workplace that enables women to shine and reach their full potential, only one in five female workers say their opportunities for workplace participation have improved, according to a recent Nikkei survey. Surveying around 2,000 female permanent employees in Japan, the study found that four-fifths respondents had seen little or even no change despite a legal push to give them a greater say in the workplaces.

Male-dominated corporate culture in Japan’s rooted patriarchal tradition is among major hurdle for women to exceed in their career. This condition is worsened with the lack of support for working mothers. Most respondents said that while companies have introduced measures to train and promote women, these initiatives had failed to fulfill the expectation in terms of improving women’s work environment.

Conducted in December, the online survey polled female employees in their 20s to 50s. Among the key findings of the survey is that 21 percent respondents said there was at least some degree of improvement since PM Abe announced the women’s empowerment initiative in 2013. Meanwhile, the other 61 percent said there had been little or no progress at all, Nikkei Asia reports.

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Seeing from the job category, more than 30 percent women holding managerial or higher positions said they had seen progress as a result of the policy. However, only 19 percent women in non-managerial positions agreed with the statement.

The survey noted that the size of the organisation seems to be among the factor that affected the efficiency of empowerment effort. Only around 15 percent women working in organisations with fewer than 300 employees said that they feel any improvement in women’s participation. The figures rose to 24 percent among women in organisations that have between 300 and 1,000 employees, and to 39 percent for those working in organisations with 10,000 employees or more.

The law to promote active engagement of women in society was first enacted by Japan’s National Diet in 2015. The law requires large companies to implement plans to urge women’s participation at work. Companies consisting of 300 or fewer employees are also encouraged to follow the initiative.

The survey also found that 20 percent respondents said they wanted to reach managerial positions or higher, while 60 percent did not aspire to that level of responsibility. About 21 percent female employees said they had experienced harassment at work. The share even reached 41 percent for women in general manager or similar positions, and 34 percent among managers.

Read also: Keen to Change Job? Top 5 Fastest-Growing Careers That Will Bloom This Year

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