2009/05/15

Women in the Japanese web industry

This Wednesday, I was invited to speak at an event called Tokyo 2.0 under the topic "Women in the Japanese web industry".(This is an article about Tokyo2.0 in Japan Times.)

We had Satoko Yamaguchi,the chair of Mozilla Japan, Motoko Imada from Mediagene, and Ayako Nakamura and David Shack from Six Apart presenting as well.

This is my slides:




The steering committee of Tokyo2.0 requested me to answer the following 3 questions from my work experience (which ranges from large company with 190,000 employee -NTT- to small startup with 3 employees -Technorati Japan when we started -).

1) Why there are less women than men in the web industry?
2) What are the opportunities?
3) What are some cool examples of successful women in the web industry and what can we learn?


Basically I think the web industry has interesting jobs and opportunities for the women, but just like other industry there are glass ceilings in certain companies.

I introduced 2 successful women in the web industry.

One is Tomoko Namba, who founded DeNA and made it public. (She has the background of working for McKinsey and becoming the partner after getting MBA at Harvard Business School). She always emphasizes that you should pursue what you want to do- life was not easy for her actually, her father had a strong policy that women shouldn't be studying, and prohibited her from doing homeworks at home, he told Namba-san to come back home at 18:00 when she was a highschool student and if she doesn't come back by 19:00 he'd call the principal of the highschool, if she doesn't come back by 20:00 he'd call the police. From that environment, she struggled out to pursue the life she wanted to lead- went to university in Tokyo, started to work at McKinsey and became the partner before founding DeNA.

The other is Risa Aihara. She worked for NTT, Recruit and founded her own company AI-land. I think she is the person who really maximized the value of herself being a women. Around 10 years ago she started a women-only mailing list called "LIFE" which we talked about online shopping and Electronic Commerce. It had the real voice of the users who are actually buying online, and talking about good EC sites and recommending them to the fellow members, talking about bad EC sites and what they want to be fixed etc. It was full of treasure for men who were unable to see what was was really wanted in the online shops from the users' perspective, and we ended up publishing 2 books from the logs of the mailing list. She went on to create websites that collected women's voices such as a gourmet site[ja] that collects women's opinion on restaurants, and Hon-cafe which has women's voices on books. She then started creating websites that are targeted for different segments of women such as Otoriyose.net[ja] which helps women to gather information about getting gourmet deliveries, Recipe Blog[ja] with recipe, Asajikan.jp[ja] a website focused on morning, Kosodate Style[ja] which is focused on mothers raising the children. I think we can learn from her that women and their "tastes" and "preferences" itself can be a great value.

I hope there will be more women coming in the Japanese web industry!

You can see the video of my talk recorded here:




Many thanks to Andrew, Rob and the steering committee of Tokyo2.0 for inviting me to speak, Mitcho for his amazing summary of my speech, and everyone who came to the event :)
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