Girls & Science

Asako Sugimoto SUGIMOTO at BIOCHEM.WISC.EDU
Wed Feb 22 00:30:32 EST 1995


In article <199502211836.KAA23811 at peseta.ucdavis.edu>
eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU (Beth Shuster) writes:


> ....but I have run into several female Japanese
> who have come to the U.S. for grad school to escape discrimination.  
In one
> case, a very intelligent young woman, who already had a master's 
degree and
> several publications under her belt, was told (by employers) that
> applications from women were not being accepted. 
>   As I lack first-hand knowledge of the Japanese culture, I don't know 
how
> prevalent this type of incident is.  If typical, it suggests the 
existence
> of a particularly sturdy glass ceiling, set at a fairly low level on 
the
> career ladder.
> 

  Yes, this is a very common incident.  

  Traditionally, Japanese companies guarantee life-time employment 
(probably not any more--due to the recession) and require loyalty from 
the employee.  This way, they can spend a huge amount of time and money 
to train/educate them for their benefit.  In this situation, to hire and 
invest in women is risky, because they tend to leave after getting 
married or (more often) having children.  A woman with higher degree is 
more risky because they are already OLDER and likely to leave sooner.  
(The situation of women with Bachelor's degree is somewhat better.  The 
companies will hire them as a technician.)  

  I have to admit that Japanese women are responsible *to some extent* 
because many women betrayed the expectation of their companies, and 
quit.  BUT, the companies should not shut the door to the women who 
really want to work.

  As for academia, things are't any better.  The college/grad school I 
attended had no female professors and only two associate professors out 
of several hundereds faculty members (they may have more now).  I know 
of many female scientists who are in the research associate/senior 
scientist level (quite often they are in their husbands' lab), but I can 
think of only a few labs run by women.  

  Fortunately, I had a great superviser (male) in the college and grad 
school, and rarely felt disadvantage/discrimination there.  However, I 
wish I could have had more female role models when I was in the school. 

  Well, some of my female friends in Japan are doing very well in both 
academia and industry, so things aren't totally bad.  Things are 
changing, just it takes time (probably MUCH longer than that took place 
in, e.g., the United States.)

  BTW, how about the situation in other countries?  I have an impression 
that eastern European countries have higher ratio of female scientist.  
Is it true?

Asako Sugimoto
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Asako Sugimoto, Ph.D.              
Department of Biochemistry         
University of Wisconsin-Madison       Phone    (608)262-6965
420 Henry Mall                        Fax      (608)262-3453
Madison, WI 53703                     Internet sugimoto at biochem.wisc.edu
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