National

Female recruits in Japan want to balance full-time jobs with family, and husbands' help with kids

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

A majority of young female recruits in Japan desire both full-time careers and a family, with 90 percent expecting their future husbands to take paternity leave, according to recent findings by Tokyo-based recruitment information firm Disco Inc.

According to the firm, the results signal a change in young women’s views on work and their roles in the society.

“Year by year more (female) students think about taking parental leave while holding on to a career, but the results of our study show that more women also want men and their future husbands to make the same commitment to child-rearing,” said Fusako Takei, Disco’s senior researcher who oversaw the study on female students’ career goals.

She said the results may reflect government efforts to promote women’s participation in society, which has included urging companies to create more women-friendly work environments.

“More female students want to be financially independent and contribute to society by joining the workforce” in contrast to past family models where women focused solely on child-rearing after marriage, she said. “We can say for sure that increasing numbers of female students expect men to be more engaged in parenting.”

In the recent survey, conducted online by the firm, 76.9 percent of 342 respondents said they were planning to continue work after marriage while only 11.4 percent wanted to be housewives. The poll was conducted from late February until early March, surveying female college and university students who were scheduled to graduate in March and had already secured employment in private businesses.

As many as 88.6 percent of young female recruits said they had sought full-time jobs for financial independence.

For 50.6 percent, work was felt to be an obvious choice in their lives. Another 35.4 percent, meanwhile, sought full-time employment as an opportunity to use their skills to contribute to society.

When asked about future plans, 61.9 percent of the total said they were planning to have a child in the future and those who had such plans said they wished to give birth at the age of around 29, on average. Meanwhile, 12.8 percent of respondents said having a child was not currently a consideration.

The respondents worried, however, about whether the companies to which they were applying would allow for work-life balance.

The young women expect their future partners to share the load with child care. In the survey 47 percent said they wanted their husbands to take paternity leave, while another 43 percent were leaning toward that idea if they had to choose.

Of the 342 respondents, 52.9 percent said they had checked policies on maternity and paternity leave when applying for job openings.

When asked about suggestions for employers, many women said they would urge businesses to promote healthy working environments that support a work-life balance that equally benefits both female and male employees.

“Most comments were related to parental leave, and in their suggestions the women said that employers should encourage more men to take paternity leave and provide more support for fathers who do so,” Takei said.

Takei said the firm’s study on career goals targeting male university students also showed that “a growing number of men think they should take some sort of paternity leave when their child is born,” too.

Still, the actual situation regarding the use of such leave does not bode well for future fathers.

The government would like the number of men taking paternity leave to reach at least 13 percent by 2020. But according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the proportion of new fathers who reported having taken child care leave in the year leading up to October 2017 stood at just 5.14 percent.