This study examines the influence of Japan's post-bubble social and economic reforms on current university-educated women's career and marital aspirations. During Japan's period of rapid economic growth (1950s to 1980s), many women aspired to take on the idealized 'professional housewife' role, which holds that all women should marry, become mothers, and devote themselves to their families. While their salarymen husbands worked to earn the family income, housewives were responsible for managing the domestic duties, such as childrearing and performing housework. Over the past few decades, there have been gradual shifts in the key structures of family and workplace in Japan. In this context, how do young university-educated women think about marriage and work? In what ways do they embrace, reject, or modify the professional housewife role? Much of the academic literature has focused on middle-aged, married women, who have been shown to accept the limitations and constraints of the professional housewife role as long as they have financial stability and some autonomy and control over the domestic sphere. My research explores this current generation of university-educated women's trend away from the pursuit of the housewife role, their views towards of marriage, work, and family life, and the factors that shape their future aspirations. This was investigated through analysis of seventeen interviews with university-educated women in Mitaka, Japan. Drawing on Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn's framework of schema theory and connectionism, I found that women's ideas, values, and experiences not only conveyed more contemporary attitudes towards marriage and work but also revealed tensions between their desire to work and the importance of family. As a result, many women expressed (striking) ambivalence towards pursuing the professional housewife role.


McConnell, David


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Cultural Anthropology


Professional housewife role, housewife, Japan, Japanese culture, Japanese society

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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