The University of Tokyo decided to offer housing subsidies of ¥30,000 per month for each female student admitted to the university. By this new arrangement, the university hopes to increase the overall rate of female students, who currently account for less than 20 percent of the total.
Some Japanese media, such as the Asahi Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun, reported this with details about the specifications of the arrangement, statements from university officials and statistics about the enrolled female students. The Independent meanwhile raised question about gender inequality in Japan and referred to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which ranked Japan 101st out of 145 countries.
The fact that the Japanese media failed to present this story in the context of gender inequality demonstrates their general ignorance of the issue.
This feeds into gender inequality being embedded at the depths of Japanese culture and society. Indeed, the university’s innovative arrangement reflects a widespread belief that highly educated women are professionally disadvantaged because Japanese seniors, often men, do not wish to have female juniors doing better at work. The same reasoning applies to relationships: Men prefer less-educated girlfriends.
A morning TV show even ran a segment where they asked regular people in Tokyo why they think female students do not wish to study at Todai, as the university is commonly known. The answers confirmed this perception: Female Todai students are unappealing and high-handed. It also said some parents hesitate to send their daughters to Todai because it could jeopardize their future promotion and marriage prospects.
So, then, is the media hindering gender equality promotion in Japan? Maybe. But we citizens should become proactive and capable of pointing this out.
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.
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