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The days of female colleagues cleaning mugs and serving male colleagues tea in Japanese offices has become less common, but most locals still consider women in the office to be more of a liability than an asset.
Nearly half of Japan’s working women are accused of “causing trouble” when they get pregnant, according to a Japanese labour ministry survey published earlier this month.
The study, conducted in September and October, covered women aged between 25 and 44 working at 6,500 companies selected from various industries was reported in the Asahi Shimbun.
Of the respondents, 47.3% said they were told that they were “causing trouble” or “should retire” after they became pregnant, while 21.3% said their contract was not renewed because of pregnancy or childbearing.
Almost half (40%) of respondents said their harassers were male superiors, while 20% said there were harassed by female superiors. The remainder said the harassment came from co-workers.
In June, a group of Japanese women spoke out against maternity harassment at a news conference organized by Tokyo-based nonprofit MataharaNet, giving examples of the kind of treatment they received, Quartz reported.
A clinical psychologist recounted her work conditions worsened after she returned from maternity leave. Her boss asked her to not join off-site activities such as attending conference, an important element for advancement in her field.
When she did attend conferences, her employer reduced her pay without her consent.
Thankfully, narrowing the gender gap at the workplace is on the government’s agenda.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe has called for women to be in 30% of leadership roles in all sectors by 2020.
Today however, women rarely reach such leadership roles.
In April 2014, the Japan’s labour ministry launched a programme offering financial rewards to small and mid-sized firms for promoting women into supervisory positions.
Interestingly, 17 months later it reported that not a single company had applied for the reward