The June 4 editorial, “Married women want to work,” takes up an important issue, but the discussion misses what I think is a key point: “Families” should raise children, not just “women.” Consider the following sentences from the editorial:
(1) “Companies should be more flexible to accommodate women taking care of children.”
(2) “In simple terms, women need to leave the workplace to pick up their kids from school and daycare centers, and take care of them at home.”
Why do these sentences say “women” and not “employees”?
In order to raise a family, parents will have responsibilities outside of work. As long as those responsibilities are seen to belong only to mothers, women will be seen as less committed employees.
In fact, these responsibilities belong to both parents. Both parents need sane working hours (never mind flextime) and other relatively minor accommodations from their employers — for example, recognition that getting transferred to the far side of the country might be inconvenient if both parents work.
Career women who choose to marry do not typically “voluntarily” leave work. Basically, they are forced out by being shunned: having responsibilities taken away, being transferred to some impossible location, given menial or demeaning duties, and so forth until they are forced to quit. Once they have “quit,” they are seen as being unreliable and finding new work is nearly impossible.
Why do companies do this? Because the companies are worried that married women will be less committed than men. Are married men treated this way? Of course not, but they are expected to work insane hours and let their wives take care of all home responsibilities. As a result they hardly see their kids.
Japan needs more families with children. It also needs talented employees. The necessary changes cannot happen as long as women are seen as being the sole caregivers for children.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.