Expressed Gender Diversity in the United States and Japan: A Comparison of Advanced Industrial Societies
The current crisis in Japan involving the Crown Prince and his wife's depression over family and professional life visibly captures gradual changes in the gendered place of women and men in Japan. Change too is occurring in other advanced industrial/post industrial societies. In this paper, we explore the potential diversity involving gender-related attitudes of college women attending single sex institutions in these two societies. The focus is primarily on comparative views regarding: 1.) The ideal gender division of labor in the household (including financial decision-making and responsibility for domestic matters) along with the potential for gendered disagreement; 2.) Work and the family (including male/female income contributions, deferring one's career for a spouse's job, whether the mother of an infant should stay home, and the relative priority placed on career, spouse, and children); and 3.) Potential for attitudinal change (including the extent of traditionalism expressed with regard to the positions of men and women, views about the pace of gendered attitudinal change on the part of men and women, and perceptions about whether women and men can "have it all"). We initially expected to find fairly traditional views expressed in our Japanese women's college sample given the entrenched positions of men and women in Japan until recently. Although our results do capture a greater likelihood for American women to question and begin to move away from earlier gender attitudes and assumptions, Japanese women are also showing a surprising desire to move away from certain traditional attitudes but within the context of a broader commitment to a more conservative gender framework.
Keywords: Gender Diversity, Gender in Japan and the United States, Gender Change, Gender, Work, and Family, Gender and Post-Industrial Society
Dr. David Novack
Department Chair and Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Washington and Lee University
Prof. Lesley Novack
Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Mary Baldwin College