Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Wasted Asset

from Time Magazine:
Yuka Tanimoto knows how to serve tea. She can do far more than that, of course, but the 33-year-old newscaster says her Japanese male bosses—and they were all male—weren't overly interested in her non-tea-pouring skills. At the Yamaichi Securities firm, which Tanimoto joined in 1997 as an in-house newscaster, she was chided for daring to voice her opinions on news content—and for cropping her uniform skirt from mid-calf to a scandalous length just below the knee. "The company was looking for cute, non-ambitious girls," says Tanimoto. "We were supposed to make copies quietly, not think." In 2000, Tanimoto moved to the electronics giant Matsushita, but things weren't much different. Only 2% of the women she worked with were on a career track; the rest were so-called office ladies who rarely graduated from tea and copy duty, even after years of service. After getting her M.B.A. in the U.S. last year, Tanimoto couldn't face working for another Japanese company. So in March, she took a job with CNBC as their Tokyo markets reporter. "As a woman, I can rise much higher at a foreign company than at a Japanese one," says Tanimoto. "The Japanese business culture is not changing quickly enough for people like me."

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