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/
Q&A with tailor Melanie Uematsu
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with our speaker, tailor Melanie Uematsu. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Hear about women’s love-hate relationship with the fashion industry, why one style doesn’t fit all, and how […]Published on 28th June 2017
June Meeting Recap: A Personal Journey: Japan’s War Brides
By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern Members and guests alike joined FEW’s monthly meeting on June 8th to hear the story of Japanese war brides, a story often overlooked and untold. We welcomed Lucy Craft, a filmmaker and former FEW member in the 80s, to reveal their hidden stories. As a daughter of […]Published on 28th June 2017
May 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Location Independent
The FEW Women’s Start-Up Club (WSC) attracted its largest audience on May 31, 2017, with three panelists sharing how their online-based businesses are succeeding, independent of location. Below are summaries of their presentations. Be sure to check out their sites for more inspiration! The next WSC event is “Mentoring and Networking” on Thursday, June 29. […]Published on 22nd June 2017
FEW Community 2017 Survey – We’d like to hear from you!
FEW has launched its biennial FEW Community 2017 Survey, and we invite all FEW members and friends to take part! The survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. By sharing your feedback, comments and suggestions on FEW programs and events as well as your past and future experiences with FEW, you will help us ensure that we continue to meet our […]Published on 20th June 2017
Event Recap: Mirai no Mori Back to Nature Outdoor Cooking Program
FEW members and friends spent a fantastic day as volunteers at Mirai no Mori’s Back to Nature Program on June 10th. On the outskirts of Tokyo, in beautiful and green Mitake, we met with the staff and volunteer teams of Mirai no Mori and a Saitama children’s home to support a program designed to empower […]Published on 16th June 2017
All Levels Yoga Class by FURLA Yoga
Join us for a relaxing Sunday afternoon yoga session and get energized for the week ahead! Noriko from FURLA Yoga, a FEW Strategic Partner, will teach a hatha yoga class in English for all levels.
FEW & Mirai no Mori Concert for a Cause
We invite all music lovers to join us for a special concert at 2ND HALF in Takadanobaba and enjoy a fun evening filled with great music for a great cause-- supporting FEW Community Services Strategic Partner Mirai no Mori's Back to Nature Program!
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Join us for the last meeting of the current FEW year as we hear from Melanie Uematsu, a tailor, on women’s love-hate relationship with the fashion industry, why one style doesn’t fit all, and how we can solve this issue as individual consumers.