Unleashed Potential: The State of Women in Tech in Japan in 2023

Post by: Abbey Baldacchino
Published: 27 June 2023

Women in Tech in Japan
A Snapshot of Gender Diversity in Japan:

– 11% of IT Engineers in Japan are Women

– 2.9% of Directors in Japan’s Tech Industry are Women

– 15% of all employees in the Tech Industry are Women

Japan is a leader in technology, but it’s no secret that the industry is still male-dominated, leaving Women in Tech on the sidelines. The challenges can be daunting for women who choose to pursue a career in tech. However, there are inspiring women who have paved the way for gender diversity in the industry. Let’s take a look at the history of women in Japanese tech, the current state of gender diversity, challenges faced, success stories, and strategies for promoting diversity.

The History of Women in the Japanese tech industry

Japan’s technology industry has a long-standing reputation for lacking gender diversity. Historcially, women have tended to be in secretary or Tech assistants but this is changing. 

Pioneering women in Japanese tech

During the 1980s, Kazuko Sugiyama became the first woman to design a video game character. She bravely challenged the gender norms in tech and inspired many women to follow in her footsteps. Her character, “Pac-Man,” became an instant classic and remains one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Similarly, Makiko Iwasaki was one of the first female programmers at IBM Japan. She worked on developing software for IBM’s mainframes, which were used by businesses and government agencies across Japan. Her work was instrumental in the growth of the tech industry in Japan.

Other pioneering women in Japanese tech include Yasuko Fujimoto, who co-founded Infoteria Corporation in 1998. Infoteria Corporation is a software development company that specializes in creating software for mobile devices. Fujimoto’s work has been instrumental in the growth of the mobile tech industry in Japan.

The evolution of gender roles in the industry

Over time, gender roles in the industry have shifted in Japan. While there is still significant room for improvement, more women than ever before are joining the tech industry and breaking barriers. Today, there are many organsations and initiatives in Japan that are working to promote gender diversity in the tech industry.

One such organisation is Women Who Code Tokyo, which was founded in 2015. Women Who Code Tokyo is a community of women who are interested in tech and are working to promote gender diversity in the industry. They host events and workshops that provide women with opportunities to learn new skills and connect with other women in the industry.

Another organization that is working to promote gender diversity in the tech industry is the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (JACE). JACE is a group of executives from some of Japan’s largest companies, including Sony, Toyota, and Hitachi. The group is working to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including gender diversity in the tech industry.

While there is still work to be done, the history of women in the Japanese tech industry is one of perseverance and progress. Pioneering women have broken down barriers and inspired others to follow in their footsteps. Today, more women than ever before are joining the industry and working to promote gender diversity.

The Current State of Gender Diversity in Japanese Tech

Despite some progress, women make up only around 15% of the tech industry in Japan. That’s less than the global average of women in tech at 22%. Women tend to be concentrated in administrative roles and are under-represented in more technical positions.

Comparing Japan to other countries

Japan compares unfavourably to other countries in terms of gender diversity in tech. For example, the percentage of women engineers at Google Japan is only about half the level of its parent company, Google, in the United States. Moreover, women’s representation in managerial posts in Japanese corporations is also lower than in other developed countries.

Challenges Faced by Women in the Japanese Tech Industry

The gender imbalance in Japan’s tech industry creates a plethora of challenges for women in the field. Breaking down gender stereotypes and biases is essential, as are strategies for work-life balance and progressing a woman’s career.

Gender stereotypes and biases

Japanese society has traditionally placed a heavy emphasis on gender roles and stereotypes, which can have a profound impact on women working in tech. Many women are expected to prioritize marriage and motherhood over their careers and may face workplace biases as a result.

Work-life balance and family expectations

Japan’s work culture is known for being demanding, and this can affect women’s ability to balance work and family commitments. Too often, long work hours are a barrier for women to maintain enough time for their family life.

The glass ceiling and career progression

Despite a growing number of women in Japan’s tech industry, many women still face a “glass ceiling” preventing their upward career progression. Promotion opportunities, pay gaps, mentorship and sponsorship are still largely in favour of men.

Success Stories of Women in Japanese Tech

Despite the challenges, there are many women in Japan’s tech industry who have broken through barriers and achieved great success. Their achievements are an inspiration to other women looking to pursue a career in tech.

Inspirational female leaders in the industry

Haruka Furukawa serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Tokyo-based startup, InnoBeta Inc. Similarly, Chiaki Hayashi is a co-founder and CEO of the multinational UX design firm, Loftwork. These women represent a new wave of female leaders who are changing the tech industry in Japan.

Women-led tech startups in Japan

The growth of women-owned tech companies is playing a role in Japan’s tech industry. For example, Cinnamon, a software company founded by a woman, has raised more than $20 million in funding and is developing products to make data analysis easier for businesses.

Strategies For Promoting Gender Diversity in Japanese Tech

Together with governmental policies, companies must take active steps to promote gender diversity in their workplaces. Mentoring, flexible working arrangements, unconscious bias training and early education are a few of the many strategies for progress.

Government initiatives and policies

The Japanese government has implemented several policies to promote gender diversity in the tech industry. For instance, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has announced the formation of a special committee to cultivate more female leaders in tech. Similarly, the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office has launched a new campaign to encourage gender diversity in corporate leadership positions.

Corporate efforts to support gender diversity

Companies can support women by implementing proactive policies, such as offering paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements to those who have families. Additionally, they can develop mentorship programs to help women build their skills and advance their careers.

Networking and mentorship opportunities for women

A lack of networking opportunities can be a significant obstacle facing women in Japan’s tech industry. Companies can sponsor or establish these opportunities, including formal mentorship programs that match up senior employees with female employees who are keen to learn and grow.

The path forward

In conclusion, Japan’s tech industry is evolving, but more needs to be done to make it an inclusive environment for women.

The contribution of inspiring women and their success stories provides continued motivation for the development of diversity in Japan’s tech industry. And the collaboration between the government, corporations and individuals working towards this goal will promote sustainable change and progress.

Interested in learning more about the Global state of Women in Tech? Check out our Article surrounding the Tech Industry in Australia, click here