Through the Global Gender Gap Reports, for the past three years the World Economic Forum has been providing a framework for quantifying the magnitude of genderbased disparities, tracking their progress over time and designing effective measures reducing them.

Top 10 Countries: Overall

  1. Norway
  2. Finland
  3. Sweden
  4. Iceland
  5. New Zealand
  6. Philippines
  7. Denmark
  8. Ireland
  9. Netherlands
  10. Latvia

Some Asian Countries:

  • Philippines (6)
  • Thailand (52)
  • China (61)
  • Vietnam (68)
  • Indonesia (93)
  • Cambodia (94)
  • Japan (98)
  • South Korea (108)

In health and survival, Japan ranked a relatively high 38th, but it did poorly in other categories. The country came 107th in political empowerment, 102nd in economic participation and opportunity and 82nd in educational attainment.

Top 10 Countries: Economic Participation and Opportunity

  1. Mozambique
  2. Moldova
  3. Tanzania
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Sweden
  6. Norway
  7. New Zealand
  8. Philippines
  9. Barbados
  10. Mongolia

Educational attainment, health and survival categories had quite high scores for many countries, but this was not the case for political empowerment.

Top 10 Countries: Political Empowerment

  1. Finland 0.5577
  2. Norway 0.5330
  3. Iceland 0.5044
  4. Sweden 0.4994
  5. Sri Lanka 0.4164
  6. New Zealand 0.3899
  7. Spain 0.3688
  8. Ireland 0.3535
  9. South Africa 0.3534
  10. Denmark 0.3340

Source: Global Gender Gap Report 2008 (PDF File) via Japan Probe

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11 thoughts on “Global Gender Gap Report 2008

  1. One thing that needs to be considered is that many women is Japan don’t want to be “equal” as defined by western terms. There is little interest in politics in Japan by all. The culture is simply different, so defining Japan (and many other cultures) by western terms is irrelevant.

  2. Doesn’t seem that way to me… at least in my university. All my technical classes (computer engineering/science) are predominantly male with 3-5 girls while my non-technical classes (philosophy/math) are overwhelmingly female with 3-5 guys.

  3. Ōkami-kun,

    The culture is simply different, so defining Japan (and many other cultures) by western terms is irrelevant.

    The same kind of reasoning is used by some Middle-Eastern countries to justify their policies. When several women university professors, teachers, and several others wanted to challenge long standing taboos by driving cars in Riyadh in 1990, whithin 10 minutes the demonstration was stopped by the police and 47 women were arrested. Their names were distributed under this title: “The names of the fallen women, the advocates of vice and corruption on Earth.” You know what the verdict was on their punishment? “Take whatever action you see fit.” Women spent a day in jail, their passports were confiscated, their jobs were lost, and their families were threatened.

    An Afghan journalism student was sentenced to death for asking questions about women’s rights under Islam, but the appels court overturned death penalty to 20 years in prison.

    These examples might be extreme cases, so let’s look specifically at Japan.

    many women is Japan don’t want to be “equal” as defined by western terms.

    I have difficulty believeing that women in Japan don’t want to have the same level of education, health, and economic opportunity as men. Let’s look at the facts.

    In Japan, 70% of working women quit their jobs when they start a family. However, according to the government, approximately 2.45 million women aged between 25 and 65 wish to work full-time in companies.

    Source: Japan Today

    In 2004, women made up only 11.1% of the scientific workforce, the lowest proportion among the 30 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (Portugal has the highest rate, more than 40%; the U.S. f igure is 26%.) “This is a very dubious honor for Japan,” says Akira Kawamoto, director for science and technology policy in the cabinet office.

    The percentage of women scientists has remained low despite rising achievement. In 2004, women made up 23% of those enrolled in science and engineering doctoral programs, up from less than 15% in 1995. Yet few women find permanent academic jobs. At Japan’s national universities, the proportion of women holding associate professorships is stuck at about 10%.

    Mariko Kato, an astronomer at Keio University in Tokyo, says that during initial postdoc fellowships, the male-female ratio closely reflects the proportion of men and women earning Ph.D.s. But as the years pass after graduation, more men find permanent positions, leaving a disproportionate number of women cycling through postdocs or other temporary jobs. Nobuko Wakayama, a protein crystallographer at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, says that it is typically the older male scientists who set the tone for institutional decisions on hiring, promotion, and funding. And “they tend to look down on women researchers,” she says.

    in Japan (and Korea), scarce daycare and a cultural bias in favor of mothers staying at home with small children result in an unusual pattern of midcareer dropouts. In most industrial countries, the percentage of women in the workforce stays fairly constant at all ages.

    Source: Science

    Some might not want to be equal, but those who want, should be given an opportunity.

    – – –

    Ffviiknight,

    Yes, personal experience may vary. Most of the classes I attended had approximately equal male-female proportion. Personal experience may not reflect national trends.

  4. Do you mean to insinuate that 2.45 million women somehow make up more than 30% of the population? Clearly, the 70% of women that quit their jobs simply are not among those 2.45 million (less than 4% of women in Japan). I can tell you that in America, far more than 4% of women want to work full time. Further, if women just recently reached 23% enrollment in science and engineering programs, it is quite impossible for them to achieve 26% to rival America, let alone the 40% that Portugal has attained.

    As your article states at the very end, it is “cultural bias” that favors mothers staying at home. The truth is that this “cultural bias” is not entirely male-imposed. This is the culture of a people, not of men alone. It may be hard for some westerners to believe, but most Japanese women actually want to be there for their children.

  5. hi nice blog i really like it. how do you do must of these thing its so cool. can you go and see my blog and comment on it thanks

  6. Ōkami-Sensei,

    Do you mean to insinuate that 2.45 million women somehow make up more than 30% of the population?

    These are two different questions that should not be mixed: percentage of women who quit their job and percentage of women who want to work full-time.

    Clearly, the 70% of women that quit their jobs simply are not among those 2.45 million (less than 4% of women in Japan).

    It is a question of time. Obviously, women who quit their job don’t intend to work full time, but many do want to go back to work after sometime and that is difficult for them with the current system. While there were some initiatives, more reforms are needed, including education.

    This is the culture of a people, not of men alone. It may be hard for some westerners to believe, but most Japanese women actually want to be there for their children.

    Yes, many women choose to be there for their children, but that is not the issue here. The issue is providing equal opportunity in all aspects for those who want alternatives. While it is true that the choice of women to stay home may affect the interpretation of the statistics, the index measures fundamental outcome variables related to basic rights, and it is clear that Japan has some room to improve.

    – – –

    Kagome8,

    Thanks. Where is your blog?

  7. Unfortunately, outcomes are not the same as causes. They may be related and they may not. For instance, if you see a person dead on a sidewalk – you do not know how the person died. They may have jumped and committed suicide or they may have been pushed out a window. Rather than finding and understanding the causes for these differences, this data only shows raw numbers. That leads people to interpret all deaths as murders (or all women as wanting to work, but being the only ones unable to do so).

  8. Indeed, outcomes just show one part of the picture. The purpose of such descriptive statistics is to highlight potential problems. Following your example, if you don’t find a dead person, you’ll not find the problems and the causes.

    According to the previous research mentioned in the report, it is estimated that providing more economic opportunity for women in Japan may boost GDP by 16%. Reduction of gender inequality may help address problems associated with aging population and pension burdens. Moreover, when it is relatively easy for women to work and to have children, female employment and female fertility tend to be higher.

    These are very important issues for Japan that should not be overlooked. Completely dismissing the Global Gender Gap findings as irrelevant is not very wise, especially for policy makers.

  9. “Following your example, if you don’t find a dead person, you’ll not find the problems and the causes.”

    If that were the case, all women that want economic parity with men should simply move to Mozambique. I am sure it’s a great place to live because men and women get paid the same: almost nothing.

    “Moreover, when it is relatively easy for women to work and to have children, female employment and female fertility tend to be higher.”

    Won’t somebody think of the children? I could make more money if I got a job in marketing, but I simply would not be as fulfilled. There would also be one less teacher that cares about his students in the workforce. While completely dismissing these findings would be unwise, it is important to put them into the proper sociocultural context.

  10. “Following your example, if you don’t find a dead person, you’ll not find the problems and the causes.”

    If that were the case, all women that want economic parity with men should simply move to Mozambique. I am sure it’s a great place to live because men and women get paid the same: almost nothing.

    Yes, gender equality is not the only factor contributing to overall quality of life. However, as I mentioned before, reducing gender gap can have substantial effect on the country. Having relatively high economic prosperity should not be an excuse for inequality.

    Won’t somebody think of the children?

    Yes, children are our future and we should take good care of them, but children are doing quite well in countries where 70% of women don’t quit the job to raise them.

    I could make more money if I got a job in marketing, but I simply would not be as fulfilled.

    Oh, you certainly could, but not all women in Japan have the same opportunity. Japan was ranked 93th country out of 130 for female-male wage equality for similar work and 69th for female-male ratio of professional and technical workers.

    While completely dismissing these findings would be unwise, it is important to put them into the proper sociocultural context.

    Indeed, the sociocultural context should be taken into account. I hope people will make the decisions that will improve equality and provide more opportunity for women.

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