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Technology transfer and the gendering of communications work: Meiji Japan in comparative historical perspective

By Janet Hunter


This paper is concerned with the gender segmentation of occupations and the extent to which the gendered nature of a technology, or the use of that technology, is transferred from one country to another. Two imported technologies, the postal system and the telephone, are used as case studies to explore the gendering of occupations in Meiji Japan. I argue that the gendering of these occupations was the outcome of the nature of the imported technologies, the need to make the technology work in local circumstances, the required attributes of employees and prevailing social perceptions of gender. The gender division of labour that resulted was in both cases similar to, but not identical with, that in the countries from which the technologies came. However, the gendering of postal occupations in early Meiji was not the subject of any formal consideration by the authorities, whereas the later arrival of the telephone in the early 1890s was associated with a more carefully planned gendering of telephony along the lines of Western industrial economies. In both cases, though, the gender division of labour initially established persisted through much of the 20th century

Topics: DS Asia, HD Industries. Land use. Labor, HQ The family. Marriage. Woman, T Technology (General)
Publisher: Oxford University press
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1093/ssjj
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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