An article from Nature. Being a woman is not the only issue here; how does being a foreigner affect my growth as a scientist in this country?
Cultural obstacles and potential damage to one’s career present major challenges to women wanting to pursue science in Japan. Some changes have occurred, but too few, and too slowly.
Why do Japanese women scientists have such a hard time of it? In their country, it seems, one is expected to wait for change to happen, not to force it, and women are supposed to gaman, or endure. Improvements in such matters as equal opportunity are thought of as gifts to be bestowed by a leader.
Some say that the Japanese prefer harmony to conflict and mediation to open courtrooms, and so do not actively pursue change. It is debatable, and hotly debated in Japan, whether this reflects a widely held cultural value or whether such norms are the result of circumstances that make contention difficult, such as a prohibitively expensive and inaccessible legal system. Is this culture of ‘harmony’ merely a tool used by government leaders, management, or whoever else might find it handy in dealing with those who make a fuss?