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9781394157990

Winding Paths to Success Chart a Career in Uncertain Times

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781394157990

  • ISBN10:

    1394157991

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2024-01-03
  • Publisher: Wiley

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Summary

Japanese women are an enigma to the world. Demure and exotic, they are often portrayed as sufferers in the chauvinistic culture – for example, married women on average spend as twice as long time on chores compared to their partners. Designated to a second-class citizen status in the working world, they are ultra-minority in the decision-making positions (e.g. half of public companies have all-male boards). It is lamentable when more than thirty years have passed since the Equal Employment Act was enacted in 1987.

"And where are the women?" asks a perplexed Belgian CEO who freshly assumed his role at a blue-chip Japanese company, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings. This book tries to answer this question through firsthand interviews with successful senior Japanese women who have embarked on a career around 1987, thus approaching retirement. They range from corporate, entrepreneurs to academic. They are a minority compared to their male peers in the cohort, but they present a wide spectrum of how a minority can carve out a long and rewarding career. Diversity of their colorful lives tells a reality of Japanese women not relegated to a monolithic, victimized position in the society. Often their careers take an unexpected turn making them more thrilling rides than straightforward paths of men. The mentors play an important role. The role models are often amiss, but not missed by these trailblazers. It is also about riding the wave – if the employer is routing for women to ascend, why feel ashamed about seizing the opportunity? They are tales of individual struggles and triumphs. The women are funny and forthcoming. Much has changed throughout their career, but there is still a long way to go. Having been there done that, they share their observations for what needs to be done.

Prefacing these stories will be the societal context within which the readers should associate each chronicle. Fresh Tracks offers lessons on individual survival and provides a recipe for further societal changes to pave the way for next generation. Each chapter will include a list of recommendations which the public and private sectors can make so Japan can further facilitate the rise of women in the working world.  

 Key takeaways:

  • How to craft successful careers from an underdog position
  • What advantages and disadvantages Japanese society offer working women
  • How to make the working world more gender-equitable

Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1: Levity

Yuki Shingu makes a brilliant come-back to IT career after nursing care leave

Japan – almost silent over #MeToo

Why having women at the top is not enough

Chapter 2: Independence

Makiko Nakamori approaches corporate governance with resolve

Gender diversity in Japan Inc. must blast past tokenism

Women must learn to harness the power of networking

Chapter 3: Purpose

Mami Kataoka believes in the power of art to change the world

Every day is International Men's Day in Japan

Companies must face up to the downsides of workplace diversity

Chapter 4: Altruism

Ayako Sonoda inherits altruism and entrepreneurism passed from her mother

Let's get real about female equality in corporate Japan

Rolling with the punches hurts Japanese women

Chapter 5: Conviction

Miyuki Suzuki drives change as outsider from within

Meetings with women that 'take too long' are a good thing

Kawaii culture hurts Japanese women in business

Chapter 6: Leadership

Masami Katakura realizes her leadership potential with help from mentor

Former princess Mako's marriage holds a mirror to Japan

Japan's language gender divide hurts women at work

Chapter 7: Growth

Ryoko Nagata stays clear of cigarettes in a tobacco company

Japan must break the glass fence keeping mothers at home

Japanese companies must capitalize on gender gap disclosure rule

Chapter 8: Curiosity

Noriko Osumi normalizes women in science

Japan needs more STEM research, not tours, to revive innovation

Women can help revive innovation for Japan Inc.

Chapter 9: Ambition

Yumi Narushima returns to Benesse after running a girls’ school

Japan must reform its antiquated marriage laws

Japan's 'Miss Contests' reflect society's high demands on women

Chapter 10: Competence

Masae Yamanaka builds career in sales traversing four companies

C-suite the last frontier for foreigners eyeing Japan Inc.

Can Japan have prosperity without growth?

Chapter 11: Homecoming

Chikako Matsumoto, World Bank alum, thrives at Japanese trust bank

Japanese companies can no longer expect lifetime loyalty from workers

Gender equity is coming to Japan's workplaces

Chapter 12: Resilience

Yasuko Gotoh breaks ground for women career bureaucrats

Japanese businesswomen need more than a place at the table

Employers should encourage risk-taking to beat impostor syndrome

Acknowledgements

Supplemental Materials

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