The Determinants of Gender Inequality in the Proportion of Managers in Japan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:40 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Kazuo YAMAGUCHI , Sociology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
This paper analyzes linked data of employer and employee surveys from the International Comparative Surveys on Work-Life Balance conducted by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry to find the determinants of gender inequality in the proportion of managers among white-collar workers in Japan. The high job quit rate among women is a common reason given in employer surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for “having few or no female managers.” This cannot be the true cause underlying gender disparity. The proportion of managers among female college graduates is far below that among male high school graduates even when the female employees have worked the same number of years as the male employees at their current companies. The fundamental problem is the institutionalized managerial practices of Japanese firms through which sex is given greater weight than educational attainment in evaluation for managerial potential.

      Using the decomposition method of DiNardo, Fortin and Lemieux, this article shows that the difference in human capital between men and women only explains 21% of the gender disparity in the proportion of managers. It also shows that in order to become a manager, long hours of work are required even more for women than for men and that the proportion of managers increases for men and decreases for women depending on the age of their last child in a way suggestive of the reinforcement of traditional gender roles by employers. The analysis also shows that firms with 1000 or more regular employees and firms with centers dedicated to the promotion of work-life balance have smaller gender inequality, and that gender inequality in those firms decreases more rapidly than other firms as the quit rate of female employees decreases. Policy measures to eliminate gender inequality in attaining managerial positions are also discussed.