Company Brand Vs. Professionalism: The Marginalization of Women in TV Newsrooms in Japan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Kaori HAYASHI , Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Makie KITADE , Tokai Gakuen University, Nagoya, Japan
This paper analyzes Japanese media elites from a gender perspective in order to identify why male domination stubbornly persists even in a working environment where institutional arrangements all seem to support women, such as paid maternity leave and an equal payment agreement. We argue that the pervasive domination of corporate culture, rather than journalistic professionalism, is the source of the persistent marginalization of women in the media sector.

A growing number of women have entered the world of corporate journalism in Japan since the late 80s after the implementation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law in 1986, but the ratio of women in senior management positions still remains at the lowest level among advanced industrial countries, according to a survey by the International Women’s Media Foundation in 2010.

Having conducted in-depth interviews on the social/educational background, professional career and life course of 21 senior news editors ranging from their late 40s to late 50s at leading TV stations in Japan, we identified clear differences between the genders in their understandings of the role of professionalism and the brands of the companies to which they belong. Female journalists tend to rely more on meritocratic professionalism based upon individual skills and achievements in moving up the corporate ladder, whereas their male counterparts feel their success largely owes to informal networks and prestigious corporate brands to which they belong.

Although gender studies has emphasized the masculine nature of the conception of professionalism, and the sociology of work has revealed the self-centered ideology underlying professionalization in many occupations, we contend that playing down the role of professionals and professionalism imposes a substantial brake on change in terms of gender equality within an occupation.