Higher Education and the Sexual Division of Labor

schooling effect on women's continuous full-time employment

[Body of the paper (in Japanese)]

Key Words: gender ideology, human capital, social change

This paper discusses effects of education on women's continuous full-time employment (CFE). Excluding women employed in family enterprises, we focus on the modern sexual division of labor (SDL) --- the division between occupational and domestic labor. First we confirm, with 1955-95 census data, that [1] the number of full-time working women has been maintained, despite a steep upgrade of their educational standards. Then we analyze personal histories of Japanese women collected through a 1985 nationwide survey.

It seems, at the first examination, that university graduates tend to pursue CFE. But [2] this correlation disappears when the teaching field is exempted. The correlation is only a pseudo one, made up with the known fact that teaching profession provides highly educated women an especially greater opportunity for CFE. Since the number of teachers is independent of the number of university graduates, we conclude that CFE is independent of the expanding higher education.

A logistic regression with three explanatory variables, excluding teachers, reveals latent determinants of CFE: [A] Women's education would have a direct positive effect on CFE, if their husbands' occupational status were kept constant. [B] Women's own occupational status before marriage has no direct effect.

The result [A] rejects the sexist education theory, which blames school for producing SDL. The result [B] rejects the human capital theory, which insists that higher occupational status leads women to CFE. Finally we conclude that school has some effect on reducing SDL, via its ideological anti-sexist function. But the results [1] [2] indicate that the effect is so weak that the change of educational standards can hardly alter SDL.

(C) 1996 Tanaka Sigeto
This paper is an earliar version of that published in 1997: Syakaigaku Hyouron (Japanese Sociological Revies) 48: 130-142. The final version was published in 1998: The 1995 SSM Research Series 12: 1-16.

Duplication in any form without the author's permission is forbidden.

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TANAKA Sigeto (tsigeto(AT)nik.sal.tohoku.ac.jp)
Last updated 2002-04-22.