Knowledge Center: Publication
Increasing Women’s Power in Japan6/24/2014 Christoffer Black and Aya Iinuma
As Japan grapples with an aging population, labor shortages and increasingly fierce competition from neighboring economies, the country is turning its attention to a long-undervalued resource: women. Japanese women comprise more than 60% of the workforce. They are highly educated and most are motivated to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Now the government is giving their ambition a vital boost - with a view to strengthening the country’s economy, prime minister Shinzo Abe has launched a plan to increase the number of women in the workplace. "We have set the goal of boosting women’s workforce participation from the current 68% to 73% by the year 2020," he wrote in September 2013.
But change will not come easy. While companies are finally showing signs of welcoming more women into the workplace, male-dominated middle management has been slow to recognize the need for change and is still unsure about how to encourage women in the workplace and remove the barriers to their career success. And while both men and women agree that it is essential to break the glass ceiling that is hindering women, they differ markedly in their opinions about what is stopping women from increasing their participation in the workforce and reaching the top.