Book written by 2010 Abe Fellow Kumiko Nemoto based on her project “A Comparative Study of Workplace Equality in a Japanese Multinational Firm in Japan, the United States, and China.”

The number of women in positions of power and authority in Japanese
companies has remained small despite the increase in the number of
educated women and the passage of legislation on gender equality. In Too Few Women at the Top,
Kumiko Nemoto draws on theoretical insights regarding Japan’s
coordinated capitalism and institutional stasis to challenge claims that
the surge in women’s education and employment will logically lead to
the decline of gender inequality and eventually improve women’s status
in the Japanese workplace.

Nemoto’s interviews with diverse groups of workers at three Japanese
financial companies and two cosmetics companies in Tokyo reveal the
persistence of vertical sex segregation as a cost-saving measure by
Japanese companies. Women’s advancement is impeded by customs including
seniority pay and promotion, track-based hiring of women, long working
hours, and the absence of women leaders. Nemoto contends that an
improvement in gender equality in the corporate system will require that
Japan fundamentally depart from its postwar methods of business
management. Only when the static labor market is revitalized through
adoption of new systems of cost savings, employee hiring, and rewards
will Japanese women advance in their chosen professions. Comparison with
the situation in the United States makes the author’s analysis of the
Japanese case relevant for understanding the dynamics of the glass
ceiling in U.S. workplaces as well.

Publication Details

Too Few Women at the Top: The Persistence of Inequality in Japan
Nemoto, Kumiko
Cornell University / Cornell University Press
Publish Date
August 2016
Nemoto, Kumiko, Too Few Women at the Top: The Persistence of Inequality in Japan (Cornell University / Cornell University Press, August 2016).