Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Young Japanese Women Vie for a Once-Scorned Job

Young Japanese Women Vie for a Once-Scorned Job : article from the NYTimes - July 28, 2009
Watch the video link here.

Reading this article, I find myself in an interesting dilemma. Do I applaud Japanese women for becoming independent, economically self-sufficient women, not relying on marriage as their only means for financial security? Or do I feel disappointed that a young Japanese woman's perecption is that the only jobs with decent money and job stability are hostessing jobs?

As someone who lived there for twelve years, Japanese culture seems antiquated at times. I often tell my friends "Do you remember the movie, Back To The Future, when Marty finds himself in the 1950s? That's how it feels sometimes when you set foot in Japan." Japanese service is unparalleled. You never tip anyone in jobs of service (hair salons, taxis, restaurants). When you get gas in your car, a whole team DOES run out to check your oil, clean your windows and fill your tank. At the end, they guide you and make sure you can enter onto the street safely, saying "Thank you" loudly as you pull away.

The Japanese gender gap can tend to have the same "old-fashioned" appearance. When I worked in a large corporation, our office was mostly women (with only one man). Even though I had a female manager, I still felt the tension when women were expected to serve tea to the men (or should I say "man"). I received little or no sympathy from my female boss when I was dragging myself to work everyday with morning sickness on crowded Tokyo commuter trains (with an occasional pit stop to empty my breakfast into a platform trashcan). I know that the Japanese women in the corporation were paid less and treated differently. A female observer from the U.S. would have been outraged, comparing their situation to women back in North America.

Does this NYT story signify a change in Japanese women's independence? Or is it a wake-up call to create labor laws in Japan that provide equality in larger corporations?

Readers, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this.


Color Online said...

Hi Jenny,

You won in the Summer Madness Giveaway. Come by. :-)

Tanya said...

Very interesting article... Though I don't know any girls who became hostesses (some rumors of neighbor girls who went off to Tokyo and haven't come back... supposedly living the high life) I do know of two men who went that route and became "Hosts" so this is not a field limited to just women. Hosts do the same job as hostesses only catering to wealthy women. And both young men left their jobs deeply in debt and are sort of wayward lost nowadays...

JBH said...

Tanya - thanks for your post. Interesting! It's a first for me to hear of "Hosts"! Another facet to a complex story.