Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Wasted Asset

from Time Magazine:
Yuka Tanimoto knows how to serve tea. She can do far more than that, of course, but the 33-year-old newscaster says her Japanese male bosses—and they were all male—weren't overly interested in her non-tea-pouring skills. At the Yamaichi Securities firm, which Tanimoto joined in 1997 as an in-house newscaster, she was chided for daring to voice her opinions on news content—and for cropping her uniform skirt from mid-calf to a scandalous length just below the knee. "The company was looking for cute, non-ambitious girls," says Tanimoto. "We were supposed to make copies quietly, not think." In 2000, Tanimoto moved to the electronics giant Matsushita, but things weren't much different. Only 2% of the women she worked with were on a career track; the rest were so-called office ladies who rarely graduated from tea and copy duty, even after years of service. After getting her M.B.A. in the U.S. last year, Tanimoto couldn't face working for another Japanese company. So in March, she took a job with CNBC as their Tokyo markets reporter. "As a woman, I can rise much higher at a foreign company than at a Japanese one," says Tanimoto. "The Japanese business culture is not changing quickly enough for people like me."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Women say better workplaces would promote childbirth

Mainichi Daily News
August 22, 2005

Changes to workplaces that would make it easy for mothers to work
would encourage women to have children the most, a Mainichi survey has found.

An Internet-based survey conducted by the Mainichi with assistance
from NTT-Resonant Inc. asked women the question, "What change from current circumstances would encourage you to have children the most?" permitting multiple answers.

Topping the list of responses in the survey was, "having a workplace
that would make it easy to work even with children," selected by 43
percent of the respondents. At 32.1 percent was "an increase in
government assistance such as allowances for children," a move being
promoted in the manifestos of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Komeito and the Social Democratic
Party (SDP) ahead of the upcoming Lower House election.

Only 26.4 percent of respondents selected a "zero waiting list (for
nursery schools)," which opposition parties have been promoting,
highlighting the gap between government policies and the public view
on measures to counter the nation's falling birth rate.

The current monthly family allowance is 5,000 yen per child for up to
two children, and 10,000 yen per child from the third child onwards.
The DPJ, Komeito and the SDP have all promoted increases in the
allowance as the selling point of their manifestos. Komeito has
promoted "a way of working in which lifestyle is not sacrificed" as
support for women in raising children, while the LDP and DPJ have
simply touched on parental leave and a system of short working hours.

In response to the question, "What change would make you want to give
birth to children?" 42.0 percent of full-time housewives and 44.2
percent of unmarried women selected "a workplace where it is easy to
work," showing that working conditions were closely related to the
decision on how many children to have regardless of whether women were married or working.

When both men and women were questioned on time they spent with their children, 54.3 percent said, "I want to spend more time with my children even if my wages decrease." When the question was restricted to men in their 30s and 40s -- those in their working prime -- 61.3 percent said they wanted to spend more time with their children, indicating that values were gradually starting to change.

The survey also asked men to consider the statement, "I wouldn't mind
abandoning my role as breadwinner supporting the family if my wife's
income could cover the household expenses." A total of 39 percent said
they agreed with the statement. Separated into age groups, as total of
53.8 percent of those in their 30s and 40s said they agreed with the
statement, compared with only 32.0 percent aged 50 or older.

When asked how the government should finance child support, the
overwhelming response was "by cutting back on wasteful public works
and administrative expenses," chosen by 85.0 percent of respondents.
Only 5.9 percent selected the answer, "by raising consumption tax."

The survey questions were prepared by the Mainichi and the survey was
conducted on July 19 and 20 by goo Research, which is operated by
NTT-Resonance. Answers were obtained from 1,079 respondents.