Getting pregnant seems to be one of the worst things a woman can do for her career in Japan.
That is because maternity harassment is a huge concern for women in the workplace, who may be demoted, dismissed, verbally harassed, and unfairly treated because of their pregnancies. Pregnant women are told they are “causing trouble” and even encouraged to retire from their jobs, according to Quartz.
Japan, the world’s third largest economy after China and the United States, conducted a survey of 3,500 women from each industry and corporate scale bracket and found how prevalent the problem of maternity harassment really is.
The survey, which involved women between the ages of 25 and 44, was administered by Japan’s labor ministry. The results were shared on Nov. 12 and revealed that over a fifth of permanent workers were victims of maternity harassment, but temporary workers had it worst.
While 40% respondents reported being harassed by male superiors, 20% reported being harassed by female employers and supervisors. Pregnant women even suffer harassment from their fellow colleagues and coworkers.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made attempts to level the playing field in the patriarchal society. As part of his economic revival plan, the prime minister called for women to assume 30% of leadership roles in all sectors by 2020.
Though Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law dictates employers are unable to dismiss or demote employees for being pregnant, few women have made it to executive positions in their companies. In April 2014, the country’s labor ministry launched an initiative to offer financial rewards to small and mid-sized firms that promote women into supervisory positions, but not a single company has applied.