|Abstract or Summary
- This paper investigates certain women's problems in
contemporary Japan. Historically, Japanese believed ideal women fit
in the stereotype of "Good wife, Wise mother." Japanese women's
main roles were regarded as wife and mother. Especially,
motherhood was the main responsibility of women. However, the
advance of industry, technology, and methods of communication
brought more possibilities to women, strongly encouraging them to
work outside the home. Although the trend is towards women's
involvement in the paid labor force, there are still controversial
issues about mothers working. The stereotypes that underlie these
problems cause others to be working mothers and some women to
be stay-at-home mothers.
I focused on two groups of women, working mothers and stay-at-
home mothers. I started with three major questions in order to
investigate contemporary women's perceptions. Firstly, what caused
mothers to decide to either stay home or work outside the home?
Types of jobs women have before childbirth, company policies, and
ideas their husbands have are key factors. Lack of governmental
support for childcare hinders women from working. Stereotypical
ideas toward motherhood make contemporary women's situations
Secondly, are there stereotypical Japanese social perceptions
that are significant influences on conditions that women face?
Especially in the work situation, in terms of motherhood, women do
face gender discrimination.
Thirdly, how do these women cope with the consequences of
choices they make? Both working mothers and stay-at-home
mothers find social connections a key factor in getting rid of stress
from childrearing. The amount of time husbands spend with
families greatly influences their wives' stress.
Based on traditional gender based role division, women still
have unequal domestic responsibilities, especially in childrearing.
However, domestic responsibilities should be both men's and
women's tasks. Men and women should cooperate with each other
because contemporary Japan is not in a time of "men at work,
women at home."
Results obtained through this research, indicate that the
traditional idea of "Good wile, Wise mother" has become outdated.
Contemporary mothers value "self" equally with roles of mother and
wife. The traditional idea of "sacrifice self" does not seem to be
attractive or ideal for today's mothers.