In this session, we have five promising studies related to family and gender roles and their implications for labor market outcomes in Japan. Family and gender roles characterize the opportunity structure of industrial societies, and many scholars recognize the evident division of duties within Japanese households. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was enacted in 1985, Japanese women still face difficulties in pursuing their careers. For example, there are inequalities between men and women in terms of career advancement, wage, and labor market participation.
The social processes that result in gender inequality in Japan are still stimulating to social scientists. It is oversimplification of the issue to attribute gender inequality to discrimination by employers. Investigating how these inequalities are rationalized and institutionalized is more important. Even when people are aware of the necessity of removing gender inequality, the daily interactions between individuals still remain embedded into family and gender role relationships within households, communities, and workplaces. Because these relationships have been generated and maintained by long-term daily practices of individual members, it is not easy to change their attitudes and behaviors. It is constructive to properly describe the social processes within the family or gender-role based inequalities, and then to correctly examine the possibility of intervention in those processes through policies and institutional changes. Due to the aging population in Japan, family and gender roles also directly link to the care for the older adults. It is important to investigate the possibility of having supporting caretakers throughout the country because it is possible that families get tired of caring for the older adults.
All authors in this session work on these themes from their individual focal points. Analyses of the occupational gender segregation and the preference toward work-family balance in Japan will further develop our understanding of the endogenous social process of labor market entry and exit among women. We also need to discuss the role of institutional settings such as educational requirements and social policies for employees, which may help advance one’s career and socio-economic independence regardless of gender. In addition to empirical findings, each paper is unique in terms of data and statistical methods, and methodologically oriented researchers will also be interested in each presentation. We hope to have an insightful discussion with the floor through the session.