More Women Workers May Save Japan’s Economy

December 30, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. salvage (v.) [sal-vij] – to rescue or to save something from loss or damage
Example: They tried to salvage the documents destroyed by the flood.

2. gender gap (n.) [jen-der gap] – a situation wherein males and females are not given fair treatment or the same opportunities
Example:  The company avoids a gender gap by giving equal salaries to male and female employees of the same job position.

3. diversity (n.) [dih-vur-si-tee, dahy-] – the state of having many different kinds or types of something (such as ideas)
Example: We heard a diversity of opinions from speakers at the forum.

4. compulsory (adj.) [kuh m-puhl-suh-ree] – required
Example: The employees must attend the compulsory event set by the management.

5. leave (n.) [leev] – a period of time when someone can  be absent from work or duty
Example: He asked his employer for a one-week leave to take care of a sick family member.

Read the text below.

Japan is currently facing an economic problem: there are not enough people in its workforce to pay welfare costs and needed taxes. However, experts believe women may salvage the economy if women are given more jobs.

According to a Goldman Sachs report in 2010, Japan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could rise by about 15% if more women would join the workforce.

Data from the government reveals that Japanese women currently earn only 60% of what men earn because most women are part-time workers. In addition, only 65% of women with college-level education have jobs, while 70% of women leave their jobs after giving birth to their first child.

The low number of working women is partly because of gender gap issues in Japan.
Kaori Sasaki, president and CEO of consulting company Ewoman, explains that high company positions have long been held by men who think similarly.

For Japan to have economic growth, she says, management and executives need people—both women and men—who think differently and can provide a diversity of ideas to solve problems.

Masahiro Yamada, professor of family sociology at Tokyo’s Chuo University says women also need to work and have income so they can think of starting families. A population increase would mean more workers to support the economy.

But being a working mom can be a challenge in the country because of long work hours and after-work socializing that almost seems compulsory. Few companies allow parental leave longer than 18 months.

Sasaki says that although some working women believe they are now given more opportunities, the gender gap remains a problem ignored by the country.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, are women in your country given enough work opportunities? Why or why not?
·         Do you believe women can really help boost a country’s economy if they can work more? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think gender gap still exists in different parts of the world?
·         What can people do to reduce gender gaps?


December 30, 2012