News

February Meeting Recap: Lean In: Japanese Women

By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern

On February 9th, FEW members and guests leaned in to listen to our guest speaker, Rena Suzuki, co-founder and leader of Lean In Tokyo. Lean In is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women achieve their ambitions. Lean In Tokyo helps women gain confidence and take an active role in their workplace by changing the attitudes and individual mindsets of working women in Japan.

Rena Suzuki was born and raised in Tokyo and majored in commerce at Keio University. Following her dream to become successful in the business world, Ms. Suzuki set off to work at an investment bank in Singapore where two-thirds of her colleagues were women. Feeling empowered, she came back to Tokyo to work at another investment bank, but to her dismay, only 7 out of almost 100 of her fellow colleagues were women. She felt restrained in her male dominant workplace, but knew that if she spoke up, she would not become successful, and so kept quiet when male colleagues spoke of women as trophies or objects. Ms. Suzuki’s ambition diminished as she gradually stopped reaching for new career opportunities. Soon after, she got engaged and planned to become a housewife. However, a reunion with her college friends and their remarks asking what happened to the ambitious Rena Suzuki they knew reawakened her drive. She started to take on more responsibilities again and decided that she needed to help other women who were struggling with the restrictions that social norms produce, thus founding Lean In Tokyo.

Lean In aims to educate and build a community where women can share their stories, learn from one another, and share the idea of Lean In with both women and men. Lean In Tokyo has 3 main activities: monthly women speaker events, updates on social network sites, and bi-weekly meet ups. It aims for a society where “all women can challenge and pursue their ambition.” Although Japan has been changing to help women, individual mindsets must first be changed in order to make policies effective. For instance, using maternity or paternity leave should not make employees feel guilty.

Ms. Suzuki gave two very simple tips on how to get started on changing your mindset: First, say thank you when you receive a compliment instead of “sorry” or “thank you, but….” Second, acknowledge your abilities by saying yes to offers. Many women doubt themselves and let good opportunities slip away, but Lean In aspires to help women not hold back and to go for these opportunities.

We are eager to see where Rena Suzuki’s endeavors will lead and hope that both men and women alike will continue to change social norms and their own individual mindsets for a more diverse and inclusive society. Ms. Suzuki’s final piece of advice? Do what you want to do.

Learn more about Lean In Tokyo here: http://leanintokyo.org/

News

Q&A with Multiculturalism Experts Anjeli Narandran and Louise George Kittaka

Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Multiculturalism through Japan’s Eyes,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with two of our speakers, Anjeli Narandran, International Coordinator at Peace Boat, and Louise George Kittaka, a newspaper columnist, university lecturer and cross-cultural trainer featured in The Japan Times and Savvy Tokyo. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal […]

Published on 9th October 2017

September 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Share your Passion and Maintain it through Masterminding

26 attendees defied the rain to join The FEW Women’s Start-up Club‘s kick-off meeting of the 2017-2018 year on September 26, 2017. WSC’s goal is to provide resources, support and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs and those who want to become entrepreneurs. We invite everyone to play an active role as WSC is a “business […]

Published on 3rd October 2017

October Strategic Partner News

Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also provide professional and personal services […]

Published on 3rd October 2017

October Community Services Feature: Tokyo Run for the Cure

By Tia Haygood, Community Services Director  The Run for the Cure Foundation is a Tokyo based non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating breast cancer in Japan as a life-threatening disease through education, timely screening, and treatment. For over a decade, organizers at Run for the Cure have provided community outreach programs and education initiatives to increase […]

Published on 3rd October 2017

How I Got Here: Nicola Vote

I first came to Japan over 20 years ago as a one year exchange student to ICU (International Christian University), courtesy of the University of London, my home university. Several of my friends were taking a year off to travel in Europe or USA. I wanted to go somewhere a little more challenging, and Japan […]

Published on 2nd October 2017