Career women continue to face significant hurdles in Japan’s male-dominated business culture, according to first lady Akie Abe.
The wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a conference in Tokyo on Monday that widespread prejudices include the expectation that women should serve beneath male managers and quit the workforce when their family situation changes.
“Japanese women still lack a strong mindset to continue with work” after events such as marriage and motherhood, she told the Women’s Career Forum 2014, organized by the Japanese unit of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
She added that such symposiums should invite more men to speak — a suggestion she heard from participants at the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo: WAW! Tokyo 2014 in September.
Asked for her opinion on what women can do to get back to work after a period as a stay-home mother, she replied: “Housewives should ideally acquire work skills just in case.
“I also think women should be able to work in ways that suit them. Women’s views should be reflected more in the way society is,” she said. “For example, we might be able to create a (kind of) office where babies can play on the floor and colleagues help each other in taking care of them.”
Following Abe’s speech, a panel of three prominent female executives discussed diversity. They were Ayako Goto, executive officer of Corporate Communication Group of Calbee Inc., Keiko Fujimoto, director and executive officer at Seven-Eleven Japan Co., and Michiko Achilles, director and vice chair of nonprofit organization GEWEL (Global Engagement Wellbeing Excellence Leadership.)