This lesson focused quite a bit on gender diversity in leadership. I thought it would be interesting to discuss gender diversity in leadership as it stands in places other than the United States.
Japan is known as one of the wealthiest, most highly educated and overall advanced nations in the world (Williams-Grut, 2016). As an example, in 2016 its literacy rate was listed as 99% for their 127 million citizens (O’Neill, 2016). Its education system is consistently ranked in the top 10 amongst other nations and its people are year after year ranked in the top 10 for math, reading and science (Jackson, Kiersz, 2016).
One would assume, in a country so ripe with bright minds, that they would want to take advantage of every human resource available in order to capture additional market share and continue growing the Japanese economy. However, this is not the case in a culture with high gender prejudice (PSU WC, L.13, 2017) where men are held in a much higher regard than women, especially when it comes to the workforce as longstanding, traditional Japanese gender roles assign women to take care of household duties (Shoji, 2016). This is described as work-home conflict where women are expected to be at home managing the kids and household and men are the breadwinners (PSU, WC, L.13, 2017). Schein & Mueller, 1992 as cited in PSU WC, L.13, 2017 notes, “…bias in sex role stereotypes created problems for women moving up through managerial roles.” This point is alive and well in many workplaces in and out of Japan.
Instead of focusing on traditional differentiating factors that define right and wrong for men and women, for example the consumption of sweets being considered “unmanly” for men (Kincaid, 2013), it would be useful to focus on inclusion within the culture. If Japan’s culture takes a more open-minded approach to defining gender roles and allows for more fluidity, this will allow the old world views of men leaving the home for work and women staying home to dissipate and more of the population will feel comfortable exploring more modernized gender roles. These actions will also likely leading to an increase in women taking on more leadership roles in the workforce.
The Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2017). Leadership and Diversity. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1848444/modules/items/22449256
Jackson, A., & Kiersz, A. (2016, December). The latest ranking of top countries in math, reading, and science is out — and the US didn’t crack the top 10. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/pisa-worldwide-ranking-of-math-science-reading-skills-2016-12
O’Neill, J. (2016, July). 10 Best Countries for Education Around The World. Global Citizen. Retrieved from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/best-countries-education/
Williams-Grut, O. (2016, November). The 11 best school systems in the world. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/wef-ranking-of-best-school-systems-in-the-world-2016-2016-11/#9-japan-56-1
Shoji, K. (2016, May). The secret joy of being a Japanese woman (no, really). The Japan Times. Retrieved from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2016/05/23/language/secret-joy-japanese-woman-no-really/#.WP7HjVLMyu4
Kincaid, C. (2013, July). A Look at Gender Expectations In Japanese Society. Japan Powered. Retrieved from http://www.japanpowered.com/japan-culture/a-look-at-gender-expectations-in-japanese-society