Cover image for The road winds uphill all the way : gender, work, and family in the United States and Japan
The road winds uphill all the way : gender, work, and family in the United States and Japan
Strober, Myra H.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 276 pages ; 24 cm
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HD4904.25 .S87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The authors take a fresh look at the widespread belief that U.S. gender equity is light years ahead of Japan's.

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.

Author Notes

Myra H. Strober is a labor economist and Professor of Education at the School of Education, Stanford University. Agnes Miling Kaneko Chan is a professor at Mejiro University and at the Nagoya Cultural Women's College, a singer, a television personality, and Ambassador of the Japan Committee for UNICEF.

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Choice Review

Academicians Strober and Chan present a comprehensive cross-cultural comparison of early adult work and family life patterns of elite college graduates. Their analysis centers around results from their original data collection: comparable 1990-91 surveys of 1981 Stanford and Tokyo University graduates. Statistical analyses are enlivened by the use of quotes from survey respondents. Chapter topics include earnings analysis, household task arrangements, child care, and expected future earnings. These data allow the authors to examine and compare outcomes regarding a number of work-family balancing issues for privileged young adults in these societies; for instance, who does the housework (still generally women), and how earnings and childbearing patterns have developed (where outcomes reveal that women make less than men, although not as much less as in the general population, and working women in the sample are less likely to have children than are the men). An extended discussion of the impact of earning ability on family arrangements regarding child care and who does the housework builds nicely on other recent research. The authors conclude that the US is not as far ahead of Japan in reenvisioning gender roles as is generally assumed. Recommended for upper-division undergraduate through research collections. J. P. Jacobsen; Wesleyan University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
1 Introductionp. 1
Organization of the Bookp. 5
The Stanford--Todai Comparisonp. 6
Japanese and U.S. Labor Markets for University Graduatesp. 7
Legal Commitments to Gender Equity in the Labor Market in the United States and Japanp. 11
Higher Education in Japan and the United Statesp. 13
Tokyo University and Stanford Universityp. 17
2 The Women and Men of Stanford and Todai: Survey Procedures, Demographics, Educational Attainment, Occupations, and Employmentp. 23
Surveying the Graduatesp. 23
Demographics of the Graduatesp. 24
Educationp. 31
Occupations of the Graduatesp. 35
Employment Statusp. 38
Commitment to Paid Workp. 41
Summary of Major Findingsp. 43
Appendixp. 45
3 What Influences the Earnings of the Graduates?p. 47
Theories About Earningsp. 48
The Graduates' Earnings Compared with Those of Their Contemporariesp. 53
The Graduates' Earnings and Hours Employedp. 55
Determinants of Earningsp. 58
Gender Differences in Earningsp. 67
Summary of Major Findingsp. 72
Appendixp. 73
Decomposition of the Gender Earnings Differentialp. 77
4 How Did the Graduates Combine Career and Marriage?p. 85
Couples' Decisions About Combining Work and Family: A Theoretical Frameworkp. 86
Combining Two Careersp. 90
Women Who Became Full-Time Homemakersp. 93
Who Is Responsible for Doing Household Tasks?p. 106
Satisfaction with Household Task Arrangementsp. 111
Bargaining Power, Hours of Paid Work, and Household Task Arrangements in Two-Earner Couplesp. 116
The Relationship Between Household Task Arrangements, Number of Hours of Paid Work, and Earningsp. 118
Egalitarian, Traditional, and "Hybrid" Familiesp. 123
Occupational Differencesp. 133
Summary of Major Findingsp. 140
Appendixp. 144
5 How Did the Graduates Care for Their Children?p. 149
Employment Status of Graduates Who Were Parentsp. 150
The Decision to Have a Childp. 152
How the Graduates Cared for Their Childrenp. 155
Fathers who Actively Participated in Child Carep. 170
Summary of Major Findingsp. 175
6 Looking to the Futurep. 179
How Accurate Are the Graduates' Predictions About Their Own Future Earnings Likely to Be?p. 180
The Graduates' Expectationsp. 181
Determinants of Expected Earningsp. 191
Analysis of Gender Differences in Expected Earningsp. 199
Summary of Major Findings on Graduates' Expectationsp. 201
7 Major Findings and Policy Recommendationsp. 203
Major Findings of the Studyp. 203
Policy Recommendationsp. 216
Conclusionp. 225
Appendix List of Tablesp. 227
Notesp. 233
Referencesp. 261
Indexp. 269