Gottfried, Workplaces in Japan Essay

Submitted By stressedbunny
Words: 1067
Pages: 5

Background
• Feminist organizational analysis links embodiment and gendered work to an analysis of new forms of labor market segmentation around aesthetic labour which Gottfried’s study is an example of.
• It is a study of the multinational temping company Manpower, interviewing top executive of Japan branch and in Milwaukee, USA and a Jap temporary agency union official with participant observation of branches.
• She discusses existing feminist theories of embodiment: Acker (1990), Halford et al. (1997) describes the process of “gendering” as embedded in the way major institutions are organised and embodied (becoming deeply part of the self not just in performance but psychologically and socially).
• Witz (1998) - the perpetuation of forms of male embodiment (enforced and validated) and forms of female embodiment (invalidated). For women this occurs in particular due their ownership of a sexualised body, which excludes them from positions of authority but qualifies them for certain front-line, more subordinate functions.
• Modes of embodiment refer to manners of speech, accent and style that conform to sets of gender attributes related to masculinity and femininity, e.g. women speaking in high-pitched voices, looking beautiful.
• Hierarchies of authority though in Japan are based on and privilege a particular version of the male body, which reward long-term (often lifetime) organizational belonging, i.e. continuous, full-time employment. In Japan, the accepted trajectory of personal lives for women is one that involves being married and having children during their late twenties and raising them full time as a stay-at-home mum.
• These values and standards manifest themselves in a way which makes a full time career for women less permissible so that whilst men begin to be pressured by employers around age 55, for women this happens at age 25.
Women’s Labour Organisation
• The employment pattern for them consists of working until marriage or the birth of a child (70% drop out at this point), and then re-entering part-time employment when their children reach primary school age (40%). Women who work full time contradict the feminized image of the good wife, wise mother on the one hand, and the masculinized embodiment of authority.
• 80% of female temporary workers are in clerical jobs compared to 70% of male workers being in professional or technical jobs.
• A magazine Haken for temporary workers is even primarily aimed at young female workers, with a women’s magazine format, including fashion adverts.
• The 2 years’ experience requirement means temp workers are generally more skilled and older and earn more than non-skilled part-timers but they have less access to corporate-based welfare than regular employees but 2/3 received health and pension insurance compared to 1/3 part-timers.
• In Japan, the design of entitlements also is done with the assumption of the worker’s masculine embodiment. Fixed-term contract workers are excluded from the child care system granting leave and have limited coverage from the Employees’ Pension Plan Act and Medical Insurance Act.
• With this male-geared format to full time careers, temporary agency work allows women to extend their working lives with flexibility and Japanese women are encouraged to look for temp work through companies’ organisational practices and cultural expectations concerned with the appropriate age for marriage.
ManPower Japan
• The recruiting process for female temporary workers follows criteria that are based on modes of embodiment.
• They are recruited by agencies that employ workers compatible with the codes of behaviour and dress businesses hold in-house, described as the ornamental office lady serves as the cultural referent.
• Hiring process for ManPower Japan: a phone-only pre-screening initial interview which applicants’ success in is judged on voice quality (assumedly how feminine they sound) as well as work experience. At interviews,…