In a time of societal transition, women and men around the globe struggle to combine careers and family in new ways. However, conventional work and family structures and power imbalances between women and men often reinforce traditional gender stereotypes in both home and office.
In an effort to understand the roots of gender inequality, Myra Strober and Agnes Miling Kaneko Chan conducted an extensive survey of the 1981 graduates of Stanford and Tokyo Universities—parallel populations in historically very different cultures. First-hand comments from the graduates are combined with quantitative analyses for a lively examination of the career and family choices of these highly educated women and men. Contrasting the realities of household responsibilities, childcare, and discrimination in the workplace with the graduates' original expectations, the authors find that the road to more egalitarian work and family arrangements winds uphill all the way.
The authors take a fresh look at the widespread belief that U.S. gender equity is light years ahead of Japan's. The elite group of Japanese and Americans in their study describe surprisingly similar experiences as they faced the job market and began raising families. In both countries, more balanced gender roles will require improved public and business policies, individual strategies, and collective action.
About the Authors
Myra H. Strober is a labor economist and Professor of Education at theSchool of Education, Stanford University.
Agnes Miling Kaneko Chan isa professor at Mejiro University and at the Nagoya Cultural Women'sCollege, a singer, a television personality, and Ambassador of theJapan Committee for UNICEF.
"Thanks to brilliant survey work, Strober and Chan's comparison of thehome lives and careers of graduates of elite institutions in theUnited States and Japan puts gender relations in both societies intoperspective. Their finding—that in many respects the women graduatesin the United States are not far ahead of their sisters inJapan—should occasion surprised and rueful reflection among Americanstudents of gender issues."
—Barbara R. Bergmann, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Maryland and American University