Kimono in the Boardroom: The Invisible Evolution of Japanese Women Managers

Kimono in the Boardroom: The Invisible Evolution of Japanese Women Managers

Kimono in the Boardroom: The Invisible Evolution of Japanese Women Managers

Kimono in the Boardroom: The Invisible Evolution of Japanese Women Managers

Synopsis

Japanese women, who comprise more than 40% of the workforce, are essential to the Japanese economy but are not typically thought of as managers. Jean Renshaw challenges that perception in this pathbreaking book. Traditional norms of lifetime employment, the seniority system, and the bureaucratic, tightly knit nature of Japanese industry all serve to restrict women's entry into management. Despite these enormous barriers, the last ten years have seen the number of Japanese women managers almost double. Renshaw interviewed over 150 successful women managers of Japan, exploring family backgrounds, personal characteristics, socialization, professional experiences, and corporate cultures to discover the secrets of their success. Showing the reader where and how this "invisible evolution" is occurring, Renshaw surveys the history of Japanese women in management and reveals the potential of the rising female managerial class to change in profound ways the male-dominated culture of modern Japan.

Excerpt

This is a book about Japanese women managers. Mention Japanese women managers, and the response is almost always the same, whether from Japanese, American, male, female, professional, or businessperson: "Are there any?" the misinformation or collective denial about this cadre of talent that fills 10 percent of Japanese management positions seems to be almost universal.

Yet the struggles and successes, dreams and disappointments of Japan's rising female managerial class have the potential to change in profound ways the male-defined culture of modern Japan. Furthermore, this invisible evolution that has seen the number of women managers double (from 140,000 to almost 300,000) in the past decade has lessons for American women as well.

Despite enormous barriers--cultural, organizational, and personal--Japanese women are finding paths to power. It's a curious phenomenon because female managers seem to exist outside the logic of Japanese men and often seem strange to Japanese women as well. Women managers are especially puzzling and incomprehensible to Japanese men in their forties and fifties, who seem to have no framework for the concept. Women are still seen as locked into serving positions or as wielding power indirectly. Japanese women are at the highest levels as cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justice, Speaker of the Diet, astronaut, and heads of companies, but they seem to exist outside logic and language.

Meeting, interviewing, and making friends with so many dynamic and . . .

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