Japanese Women Aspiring to Management Positions in Kanagawa, Japan: A Narrative Inquiry

Japanese Women Aspiring to Management Positions in Kanagawa, Japan: A Narrative Inquiry

Author: 
Mc Donald Thomas
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative narrative inquiry was to gather the stories of Japanese women who have reached out for leadership or management positions in a Japanese-owned or operated company in Kanagawa, Japan. The study was conducted in Kanagawa Prefecture with 11 participants who met the criteria for the study and, using 11 open-ended questions to gain the data used for analysis. The research question that was used to guide the study was: What are the experiences of Japanese women who sought promotion to a management or leadership position (Kakarichō or Kachō) in a Japanese-owned or operated organization? Two sub-questions were also used to guide the study. Data analysis was conducted using the van Kaam Seven Step method and the thematic approach. Six main emergent themes were: (1) gender discrimination in Japan is a cultural norm, (2) workplace discrimination in Japanese firms continues, (3) the Japanese government is actively seeking change, (4) lack of preparation for leadership positions persists, (5) stereotyping of Japanese women continues in the workplace, and (6) career Japanese women want a chance to lead. Three sub-themes also emerged from the study. A closer look at task assignment and, incorporating organizational plans with the government’s national Action Plan on Gender Equality were among the recommendations to leaders. Additional research in other areas in Japan as well as specialized leadership training for male managers in the areas of workplace discrimination and stereotyping were also recommended.
Dedication: 
I would like to dedicate this dissertation to all those who supported me on this difficult and sometimes frustrating journey. To those who never forgot to ask of my progress and encouraged me to keep striving to achieve my goal, I dedicate this to you. Most of all, I dedicate this dissertation to Noah, the last of my children, to demonstrate to him that perseverance is imperative if one is to achieve a goal. Noah, this is for you.
Acknowledgements: 
I want to acknowledge the guidance, strength, and wisdom from the Almighty. This would not have been possible without the help and presence of the Creator. I am eternally grateful. To my Chair, Dr. Marianne Justus who came to my rescue when I was thinking of giving up, I say a million thanks. I would not have pressed on and could not have done this without your professional coaching, constant encouragement, and extensive wisdom. You made it possible for me to reach this milestone – thank you. To my committee member Dr. Ferguson who remained with me from the very beginning to the end, thanks for your patience and tolerance of my many moods and changes. To my new committee member Dr. Johnson, thank you for accepting my request to see me through to the end. I am grateful for your support – thank you. To my family, thank you for your unwavering support. A special mention to the Green family, especially Antoinette, and to Cheryl, Margaret, Mclean, Nellie, Noah. D., and at the top of the list, Toby, for always asking of my progress and encouraging me to keep charging and never give up. Thank you all for your encouragement. To the participants, this study could not have happened without your willingness to share your stories. My thanks to the (Women in Business) WIB for your support. Finally, once again, I want to acknowledge the hands of the almighty on my life that made this journey a success.