How to improve the gender pay gap in Japan -- Nov 27
Gender equality is a topic that has become more prevalent in recent years. Governments, businesses, and the media have all been seeking to find ways to address the imbalances between men and women. One big area of this is the gender pay gap.

It is believed that closing it in the Asia-Pacific could provide an annual $4.5 trillion boost to the region's GDP.

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly wages earned by men and women. It is often confused with unequal pay, which is where (typically) a woman is paid less for doing the same work as (usually) a man. In many countries around the world, this is illegal. For example, in the UK, the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970. In Japan, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was passed in 1985.

The gender pay gap is typically larger because of the different jobs undertaken by men and women. In Japan, women earn 27% less than men.

Cultural Barriers to Closing the Gap

Since Japanese culture places so much emphasis on the traditional family set up, generations grow up around these divided gender roles. This creates a chicken and egg scenario.

A re-balancing of gender roles is required to change the attitudes of future generations, but these same generations are unlikely to lead this re-balancing without an example to follow.

A similar scenario exists in other fields, for example sports. Women's sport is growing in prominence, with many supporters demanding more media coverage. However, the media typically produces and broadcasts content that is likely to attract large audiences since this allows them to make more in ad revenue. This, in turn, makes the male-focused broadcasts more likely to get air time.

One key area to focus on to make a difference is changing this traditional view of gender roles. But ultimately, success will likely come from education rather than home.

Breaking Down Barriers to Advancement

In Japan, 85% of men work compared to just 63% of women. Female employees are also significantly more likely to work part-time compared to their male colleagues. This makes it more difficult for them to advance to more senior roles, with only 9% of legislators and senior managers and officers being female in the country.

A vital tool for tackling these barriers is education. Encouragingly, women are now enrolling in higher education at almost the same rates as men, which will see improvements over time. Providing flexible working opportunities for women who want to balance a career and taking care of their family will also be an essential tool for bringing about equality.

Women in Japan still have a long way to go before they reach parity to men, but improvements are slowly being made. Their biggest barrier is cultural - resolving this will help to make other steps easier.

News source:
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