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Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007

Good bosses key to more career women: speaker

Staff writer

Training both men and women to be better managers is the key to encouraging women to pursue lifelong working careers, according to Victoria Bolam, head of a Tokyo-based corporate personnel training firm.

News photo
Victoria Bolam, managing director of Action Japan, speaks Saturday at a seminar on women in the workplace in Minato Ward, Tokyo. KANAKO TAKAHARA PHOTO

Speaking at a Tokyo seminar last weekend on women in the workplace, Bolam said male managers do not know how to utilize the women working for them, and this is because the men have not been trained well enough.

She said there are few programs in Japan that deal with different communication styles or working with ethnic minorities compared with the West.

Male managers "are frightened of you. They really don't know how to deal with you," said Bolam, speaking to an audience of about 80.

"Some of them will treat you like little admin (administrative staff) who will collect tea and think that's all you should be doing in the workplace. Management in the older generation will treat you like a daughter, telling how cute you look in the morning and give a pat on the back."

Female managers, however, can be tougher to deal with, she said.

Many were the first women to enter the all-male environment of management under the 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Law. They adopted a macho attitude as they climbed the corporate ladder, Bolam said. "They can be very strict to women who don't work in the same style as them."

Another speaker, Yuriko Miyazaki, president of Krene Inc., a consulting company on human resource development, said a woman doesn't need to have a clear vision of her career path, as careers are usually built through a series of coincidences.

"Even if you don't know what you want to do in the future, just think of getting the most out of what you are doing at the time," Miyazaki said. "You eventually find out what you want to do after a series of events that occur over the course of time."

Miyazaki called it "planned happenstance," a concept she said was introduced by a Stanford University professor and means that a person's career is built up by a series of incidents that are caused by a person's ideas, decisions, personal connections and so on.

At a separate seminar for the same event, Elizabeth Handover, director of Intrapersona Consultants, spoke about how different ways of communicating are needed for different types of people.

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