Quotas for female managers debated in Japan

HRM 14 Jan 2013

Government officials in Japan have clashed over quotas for women managers in the male-dominated Asian country.

According to Yuriko Koike, recently appointed head of the newly incumbent Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) public relations headquarters, Japan must put more women in key posts to boost its economy.

“To mobilise women would create a breakthrough in Japan's economy. This itself would change the paradigm of Japan's economy and ought to be ensconced as part of our growth strategy,” she was quoted saying in a report by Reuters.

Two other female appointees in the party – LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi and party General Council Chairwoman Seiko Noda – have also been debating over the need for legal quotas for women managers in the public and private sectors to exceed more than 30% by 2020.

Takaichi, a staunch conservative on social issues, raised the concern that a quota would lead to “reverse discrimination” that would benefit women on the expense of men, while Noda backed the measure as necessary to ignite change.

In a recent report in October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that females accounted for nine per cent of the country's managers as of 2009, compared with 43% in the US. Its female labour force participation also fell behind many other advanced countries.

Japanese women face many challenges in their career growth, with corporate hiring practices that place women in non-career-track jobs, a tax code that favours housewives and the tendency to drop out of the workforce after childbirth, due partly to social pressure but also to a shortage of childcare facilities.

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