Like many of us, I’ve had my share of unsupportive bosses, particularly those who are keen to promote a man rather than a woman. I know that in many societies it’s a real struggle to get recognition as a a professional if you happen to be female. And today I discovered just how bad it is for women managers in Japan.
An article in the HBR blog (what a great resource their online version is, by the way) reveals that, along with South Korea, Japan has the lowest rate of women managers in the developed world at around 10%. Note, we’re not talking about Board members here, we’re only looking at managers. By comparison, about 35% of managers in UK are female, which puts us just above the EU average, and fourth behind Latvia, Lithuania and France. Yep, you read that right, France have a higher percentage of female managers than UK.
The other fascinating fact to emerge from this piece is that ‘more women working and more babies’ can help ‘counter an aging workforce and a flaccid economy’. In my opinion that’s a lesson the UK government could take on board, too. For many working women, the poor level of childcare makes it difficult to commit to a career and be a truly effective performer at work. We do it, but it’s despite a limited (and in some areas non-existent) level of childcare.
It’s easy to be complacent that we’re doing so much better than Japan and the majority of EU countries, even the Anglo Saxon ones. Women make up over 50% of the UK population, so why are the numbers so low?
Of course, taking time out to have children accounts for some of the difference, but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. In my work I am increasingly meeting intelligent, dynamic women who have left the corporate sector (by which I mean the world of other peoples’ organisations, private, public and not-for-profit sectors, organisations large, medium and small) to set up their own business. Many say they dislike the corporate ethos, that it’s too masculine and doesn’t allow them to express themselves as women. Many are leaving because they are fed up, and feel they can have more work-life balance, time for their kids, do something they love and make a difference by working for themselves.
As a woman running her own business, I applaud this. But how sad that so many of us do it because feel we HAVE to do it, that it’s the only way out, the only way to have a truly fulfilling career and be who we really are, rather than struggling to play the game.
Rant over….here’s the rest of that hbr blog.
Picture By Yu Morita from Tokyo, Japan (20081101-DSC_2264) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons