A survey has highlighted a major problem, which “Abenomics” hopes to tackle: a severe gender gap in the boardroom of Japanese firms.

Credit research agency Teikoku Databank has found that from all the records of registered companies, only 7.4% had female presidents as of the end of June. Further more, 50.9% of the women positioned on the top of their companies obtained the post from their husband or a blood relative. A third of them, 34.7% have started the business from scratch.

The inequality between men and women within the workplace has often been addressed in Japan. Prime Minister Abe has included boosting female participation in the work force as part of his “Abenomics” plan and wants to increase the ratio of female managers to 30% by 2020. With respect to this, the scheme also wants to boost the number of mothers returning to work after the birth of their first child, raising it to from 38% to 55% in the next 6 years.

Although there are various reasons for not going back to work after child birth, it is also partly due to Japan’s workplace culture that rewards long hours more than results. When 18-hour days are not unusual, finding child care also becomes a problem.

This issue isn’t only a matter of saying that women need to be encouraged to somehow become more active in the workplace. A supervisor of the study mentioned that banks may often hesitate to lend money to female entrepreneurs because of their gender, making it difficult to gain access to loans and start up a business in the first place. The survey found that for males, 43.1% of presidents are in the role because they found the company themselves, and only 36.6% inherited it from a relative.

– Mona Neuhauss

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