Equal Employment Opportunity and the “Managerial Woman” in Japan




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    • *The authors' affiliations are, respectively, Centre de recherche et développement en économique, de Université of Montréal, and Department of Policy and Planning, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. We acknowledge helpful comments from three anonymous referees of this journal as well as from Ronald Dore and Claude Montmarquette. Major research assistance was provided by Eiko Matsubara and Ali Bejaouni.


Over the past three decades, women have represented an increasing proportion of newly employed four-year college graduates, in Japan. We analyze the determinants of female representation among these new recruits in terms of the supply of female four-year college graduates, the desire of Japanese women to participate in the paid labor force, shortages of male four-year college graduates, and the impact of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) that went into effect in April 1986. Multivariate regression analysis reveals that the supply of female four-year college graduates and the EEOL account for the rising proportion of women among university-educated recruits into the paid labor force. We go on to explore the enhanced, but still limited, career opportunities that have opened up to Japanese women under the EEOL, and we relate their progress to the recent debate over the use of the “mommy track” in managerial hierarchies in the United States.