Women in Japan’s Man-Made World of Work

Dr Caroline Norma1, Professor Kaori Okano2, Dr Emma Dalton1, Dr Reina Ichii1

1RMIT, , Australia, 2LaTrobe, , Australia

Chair: Dr Caroline Norma


This panel considers the effects on female workers of Japan’s man-made world of work. These effects are discussed in terms of women’s individual experiences of discrimination, harassment and marginalisation, as well as the sex-unequal structural features of Japan’s labour market noted by a number of local scholars. The agency of men, both as individuals and institutional foot-soldiers, is highlighted in the panel’s identification of factors that exclude and purge women from Japan’s labour market. Among the so-called advanced industrialised countries, this market is highly sex-segregated, and awards women workers incomes vastly different from those of men. While women’s experiences of work in different labour market spheres vary markedly, the panel nonetheless suggests these experiences are fundamentally characterised by accommodation and adaptation to features of the labour market that can be described as “man-made” on the basis of the disadvantage they impose uniquely upon women.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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