Leaning out for the long span: what holds women back from promotion in Japan?

Glenda S. Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In advised women to seize opportunities to climb the ranks of a corporation. Yet many of Japan’s growing cohort of corporate women warriors deliberately opt not to lean in. This article, based on ethnographic interviews with a group of these women, explores their survival strategies of building a career while embedded in still traditional gender roles over marriage and childrearing. Will these strategies evolve as companies are pressured to increase the percentage of women in management under Prime Minister Abe’s policies? How much are ‘neo-liberal’ 1 notions of career-building and self-responsibility affecting Japanese salarywomen? 2 Data come from a longitudinal set of thirteen Japanese women in the same large Tokyo multinational corporation, whom I have been interviewing at 2–5-year intervals since 2003. 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-576
Number of pages22
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Japan
  • gender
  • promotion
  • women
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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