Contemporary Japanese Career Women: Reflections on Profession, Life, and Purpose

Aronsson, Anne Stefanie (2020). Contemporary Japanese Career Women: Reflections on Profession, Life, and Purpose. Qualitative report, 25(3), pp. 569-595. Nova University & Northern Illinois University

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In this article, I explore what motivates Japanese women to pursue professional careers in today’s neoliberal economy and how they reconfigure notions of selfhood while doing so. I ask why and how one fourth of Japanese women stay on a career track, often against considerable odds, while the other three fourths drop out of the workforce. Employment trends indicate that more white-collar professional women are breaking through the “glass ceiling” and more women are now filling managerial posts. These trends have been supported by the recession, which has led to the liberalization of career paths that fit with women’s tendencies to engage in short-term and part-time work. Through snowball sampling, I carried out in-depth interviews with thirty-eight women in their forties for eighteen months (between 2007 and 2010), and I conducted follow-up interviews with a selected group of these women (between 2014 and 2018). The women in this group had been in their careers long enough to be able to look back on their professional and private experiences. As I show in this article, the forties appear to be a turning point, because this age represents their first opportunity to take the time to reflect on their careers and to redress the imbalance between their professional and private lives.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Aronsson, Anne


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Nova University & Northern Illinois University




Anja Julienne Wohlgemuth

Date Deposited:

25 Nov 2020 09:53

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:42




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