Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality

By Raymond F. Gregory | Go to book overview

Conclusion

As depicted in the cases reviewed in the preceding chapters, the U.S. workplace is not an attractive one for women. But some believe that women could be even worse off. Take, for example, the case involving Tomoko Haneda reported in the New York Times in February 2000. Haneda began working for Sharp Electronics in Japan in 1963, hoping to build a career through hard work and continued education. In her spare time, she earned a university degree, but six years passed before Sharp gave her a small promotion. Another twentyone years then elapsed before she received her next salary increase. After quietly accepting these conditions for years, Haneda sued Sharp in accordance with Japan's anti-discrimination laws and attained a measure of justice when an Osaka court granted her judgment in the sum of $55,000, the largest workplace sex discrimination award in Japanese history. But Haneda was not happy: “This case has made me ill, and I was hospitalized twice. They may have paid me $50,000 in compensation and $5,000 for legal fees, but they didn't pay me what I had asked for, which was the difference between what I've earned all of these years and what I should have earned.” 1

Many Japanese companies maintain separate personnel systems, one for men and another for women. While it is assumed that men will build careers for themselves and advance to higher positions, Japanese working women are typically assigned to low-level clerical, sales, and accounting positions, with little prospect for future advancement. These women are categorized as miscellaneous workers or “office ladies.” What is the role of an office lady? “They are expected to be … flowers in the workplace, who … brighten up the office with

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