A Comparison of Women Executives in Japan and the United States

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Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Harvard University 61 Kirkland Street Cambridge, MA 02138-2030 2007

ABOUT THE AUTHOR After earning her B.A. from the University of Tokyo, Professor Bando embarked on her distinguished 34-year career as a civil servant. She has served in the Prime Minister’s Office in Japan, as Vice-Governor of Saitama Prefecture, and as Consul General of Japan in Brisbane, Australia. A prolific author of numerous books, her most recent publication is Toward a Gender Equal Society. During the 2004-05 academic year, Professor Bando was a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s Women and Public Policy Program. Currently, she is Vice President of Showa Women’s University in Tokyo. While at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan relations during academic 2006-07, Professor Bando conducted a comparative study of women executives in Japan and the United States.

ON THE OCCASIONAL PAPERS OF THE PROGRAM ON U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS Established in 1980, the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies enables outstanding scholars and practitioners to come together for an academic year at Harvard University. During that year, Program Associates take part in a variety of activities and conduct independent research on contemporary U.S.-Japan relations, Japan's relations with the rest of the world, and domestic issues in Japan that bear on its international behavior. The Occasional Paper Series is wide-ranging in scope. It includes papers that are valuable for their contributions to the scholarly literature; it also includes papers that make available in English the policy perspectives of Associates from government, business and banking, the media, and other fields on issues and problems that come within the scope of the Program. Needless to say, all papers represent the views of their authors and not necessarily those of their home organizations, the Program, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Reischauer Institute, or Harvard University.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Chapter 1. Policies and Issues Related to Working Women in Japan and the United States Chapter 2. Japanese Survey Chapter 3. U.S. Survey and Comparison with Japanese Women Executives Conclusion 1 3 16 24 29

ABBREVIATIONS CEDAW EEOC GEM ICT MLHW OL UNDP Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Gender Empowerment Measure Information and communication technology Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare “Office lady” United Nations Development Program

INTRODUCTION An increase in the number and ratio of women in decision-making positions in Japan is an important goal. In this connection, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) created the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), a composite index to ascertain gender inequality in three basic dimensions of empowerment: economic participation and decision-making, political participation and decision-making, and power over economic resources. The GEM investigates such indicators as the ratio of women to men in executive positions and legislatures as well as the income gap. 1 To reflect women’s needs economically and socially, expanding of their participation in decision-making in Japan is not only indispensable and will have great significance in expanding the layer of talented individuals who can support the nation’s aging society and compensate for the loss of working-age population in the country, but also in creating more chances to demonstrate women’s abilities and removing prejudice against them. Female managers, however, are still rare in the Japanese business world, while the number of woman at the executive level is negligible. I think that an investigation of female directors’ careers and research into the...
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