Firms are Creating Negative Stereotypes of Female Employees: Theoretical analyses of two kinds of self-fulfilling prophecies and their counter measures

Author Name YAMAGUCHI Kazuo  (Visiting Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. August 2010 10-J-049
Research Project International Comparison of Measures to Improve Work-Life Balance and Consideration of Challenges Facing Japanese Companies
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This paper strengthens theoretical grounds to argue that the cause of certain negative stereotypes that many managers in Japan have toward female employees is not the fault of female employees themselves but the result of employers’ choice to generate self-fulfilling prophecies of such stereotypes. Examples of these stereotypes include: “It is useless to invest in women because they will resign when they marry or have children” and “In comparison to men, women are less productive and less motivated to improve the quality of their work.” The paper also discusses ways to break the mechanism of those self-fulfilling prophecies. Regarding the high rate of resignation for women, the theory introduced in this paper becomes an extension/application of Gary Becker’s theory on the self-fulfilling prophecy of divorce. Regarding low productivity, the analysis relies on Coate and Loury’s game-theoretic model of statistical discrimination, but it extends the model by providing two new solutions for breaking the self-fulfilling prophecy. The paper also analyzes different situations for which the original assumptions of Coate-and-Loury’s theory are modified to reflect employment situations in Japan. Through these analyses, this paper discusses what should be considered important when promoting gender equality in economic activities.