Working wives gaining in favor

More men favor the idea of women continuing to work after marriage, but most do not take on an equal share of housekeeping and child-rearing activities, according to an annual government report on gender participation released Friday.

The male and female perception of a woman continuing to work after marrying and having children has moved in a “positive” direction, but a gap remains over how they manage and balance work and family, according to the 2004 white paper released by the Cabinet Office.

In 1972, 40 percent of men said women should not work or should simply be housewives after getting married. But in 2002, this figure had dropped to about 10 percent, according to the document approved at a Cabinet meeting in the morning.

The figures were based on a 2002 survey conducted by the Cabinet Office on 5,000 men and women nationwide.

A significant shift in the attitude of men aged in their 20s and above was also especially evident from 1992 to 2002, with those in favor of their wives continuing to hold jobs after having children numbering 37.2 percent in 2002, up from 19.8 percent in 1992, the paper says.

The report attributes this shift to current economic hardships, such as sluggish growth in wages, job losses due to corporate restructuring, and growing fears that a husband’s wages alone cannot support a family.

Likewise, the number of women who think of working after marriage has logged a huge increase over the past 30 years — from about 10 percent to 38 percent.

But there are just as many women — 40.6 percent — who favor the idea of temporarily quitting work and starting again after their children have grown up.

This is because women feel that they need to attend to housekeeping and child care activities on top of their work.