Citation

Japanese education: Liberating women for a culture that doesn’t

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Abstract:

Topic and goal: With over 50 percent enrolled in college, Japanese women are among the highest educated women in the world. This fact stands in stark contrast to the reality that 42 percent of Japanese women do not return to their jobs after childbirth (Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs, White papers on gender equality, 2009.) In an era of economic instability, with fewer children for the future and too many elderly, single-income families are feeling a greater financial stress than the generation before (White, 2002). Although the time seems right to keep educated women in their professions, this is not happening in any significant way. This research investigates the reasons behind the “pull-out,” and looks at what other alternatives for developing the self exist for educated women of the economic slump generation.

Theoretical background: Previous studies of Japanese women (Lebra, 1992, Rosenberger, 2002) have highlighted how social role expectations exert strong influences over the formation of self-image. The traditional Japanese mother was stereotyped as one who accepts self-sacrifice and hardship for the sake of the family, and in return, becomes a full-fledged adult in the eyes of the community. In many ways, this ideal is still present, but in the current social and economic environment, there are more diverse ways for educated women to create themselves as they journey to adulthood.

Method: We interviewed college-educated women with young children to find out what challenges they met with their career paths once they became mothers and what choices they envisioned for themselves regarding the concept of career. Repeat interview visits were structured in order to gain the informants trust.

Findings: College educated women interviewed sited diverse reasons why they found returning to work problematic. Among the most commonly sited reasons were: husband’s lack of availability, lack of adequate daycare, found work either unfulfilling or stressful, and desire to be a full-time mother/housewife, and incorporating the help of grandparents.

Discussion: As in other advanced countries, a college education is an important means for advancing one to the position where informed choices can be made that affect life chances. For Japanese women, however, this is not focussed so exclusively on career development. College educated women have been awarded more choice to opt out of the work world in order to devote themselves to the role of mother/wife. In this way, education is seen as a means to assure social status. Women who strive for careers must face the criticisms of the status quo. Without children, this is easier to bear, which is why many devoted career women still choose not to marry and have children. Japanese education has liberated women with more choices, but society still has not encouraged them to become full-fledged members of the world outside of the domestic realm.

Author's Keywords:

development of self
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492659_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Morrone, Michelle. and Matsuyama, Yumi. "Japanese education: Liberating women for a culture that doesn’t" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Apr 30, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492659_index.html>

APA Citation:

Morrone, M. H. and Matsuyama, Y. , 2011-04-30 "Japanese education: Liberating women for a culture that doesn’t" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p492659_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Topic and goal: With over 50 percent enrolled in college, Japanese women are among the highest educated women in the world. This fact stands in stark contrast to the reality that 42 percent of Japanese women do not return to their jobs after childbirth (Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs, White papers on gender equality, 2009.) In an era of economic instability, with fewer children for the future and too many elderly, single-income families are feeling a greater financial stress than the generation before (White, 2002). Although the time seems right to keep educated women in their professions, this is not happening in any significant way. This research investigates the reasons behind the “pull-out,” and looks at what other alternatives for developing the self exist for educated women of the economic slump generation.

Theoretical background: Previous studies of Japanese women (Lebra, 1992, Rosenberger, 2002) have highlighted how social role expectations exert strong influences over the formation of self-image. The traditional Japanese mother was stereotyped as one who accepts self-sacrifice and hardship for the sake of the family, and in return, becomes a full-fledged adult in the eyes of the community. In many ways, this ideal is still present, but in the current social and economic environment, there are more diverse ways for educated women to create themselves as they journey to adulthood.

Method: We interviewed college-educated women with young children to find out what challenges they met with their career paths once they became mothers and what choices they envisioned for themselves regarding the concept of career. Repeat interview visits were structured in order to gain the informants trust.

Findings: College educated women interviewed sited diverse reasons why they found returning to work problematic. Among the most commonly sited reasons were: husband’s lack of availability, lack of adequate daycare, found work either unfulfilling or stressful, and desire to be a full-time mother/housewife, and incorporating the help of grandparents.

Discussion: As in other advanced countries, a college education is an important means for advancing one to the position where informed choices can be made that affect life chances. For Japanese women, however, this is not focussed so exclusively on career development. College educated women have been awarded more choice to opt out of the work world in order to devote themselves to the role of mother/wife. In this way, education is seen as a means to assure social status. Women who strive for careers must face the criticisms of the status quo. Without children, this is easier to bear, which is why many devoted career women still choose not to marry and have children. Japanese education has liberated women with more choices, but society still has not encouraged them to become full-fledged members of the world outside of the domestic realm.


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