Education About Asia: Online Archives

The Accidental Office Lady

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By Laura Kriska
RUTLAND, VERMONT AND TOKYO, JAPAN
CHARLES E. TUTTLE COMPANY, 1997
303 PAGES

Reviewed by Jan Bardsley

Much recent scholarship about the lives of Japanese women has focused on their working conditions, with particular concern paid to their rights in the corporate world. As almost one-third of young Japanese women take clerical positions of some sort, much of this attention has concentrated upon the “Office Lady” or OL. The Accidental Office Lady provides yet another view of a working woman’s life inside the Japanese corporation, this time in the form of a first-person account written by a young American. Although this book offers no new information about either OLs or Japanese corporations, it does dramatize thorny questions in contemporary feminism and in U.S.-Japan relations. How should women, who are differently privileged by race, nationality, and education, work together for women’s rights in international corporations? How can corporations themselves foster diversity without resorting to tokenism or essentializing cultural differences?