Fashion CEO Nanae Matsuoka Speaking Out On Women’s Inequality in Japan Fashion CEO Nanae Matsuoka Speaking Out On Women’s Inequality In Japan Worldwide, the struggle to make sure that men and women are operating on equal playing fields is a daily struggle. Not only is the pay gap ever present, but the daily battle for respect and opportunities is worth taking a stand for. In Japan, gender equality is number 111 in the world, which is the lowest of developed countries. While they are making small strides to open the door of opportunity to women, there are still only 13% who hold a CEO level job. Nanae Matsuoka is the CEO of NERDUNIT JAPAN, a street-style fashion brand originally founded in San Francisco by Ronald Chew. They operate with 10 branches and more than 30 boutiques all over the world, and were recently elected to participate in Tokyo Fashion Week. When Matsuoka showed up to participate in those events, the men present for meetings were shocked she was a woman when she walked in the door. Yes, they apologized, but this sent an immediate red flag, alerting her that there needs to be much more awareness created about the daily inequalities woman deal with in Japan. Nanae Matsuoka What barriers did you break through to become a CEO? “I think we need to have strong opinion, not hesitate to ask or share opinions with concrete logic of the story what we’re discussing. No matter what if the discussion gets heated, being calm and capturing the issue is the important part. And Japanese women here have to be more strongly conscious than men.” What is the biggest lesson being a CEO has taught you? “I learned how tough it is to always be independent. When I make a big decision, I am trying to think for myself and decide what is the best way to handle the situation because every responsibility of the decision is on me. As CEO of Japan Market, I have been very lucky to have an amazing business partner and designer/CEO of headquarters who is located in Malaysia.” “Through that partnership, I learned both how tough it is to make big decisions for Japan Market by myself, but at the same time, how great it is to have amazing partner to discuss and make all of the final decisions together.” Nanae Matsuoka I’m shocked that people are expecting you to be a man whenever you walk into big meetings. How do you handle this? “Yes exactly. Especially the street-style fashion is not a women’s territory when it comes to the role of many female consumer purchasing for a street style brand. Whenever they told me that they were expecting me to be a man, I am always trying to be calm and get straight to the point of the discussion.” What are some things that can be done or you’re already doing to help fight the stereotypes of Japanese women? “I always try to speak up and share my opinion before another man does. First penguins always need to be brave, but once we’re doing everything faster than men, it will made a good impact for women to be tough enough and they will start listening when we are talking.” What are some things that Japan currently is doing to help break through these barriers and give women inequality? “Japanese government is now trying to give women the work opportunity to break women’s inequality. Additionally, the Japanese man seems trying to support the idea of women’s social equality gradually. However, the reason why Japan still has a gender-gap is because Japanese women are still not trying to capture the chance they are giving us. In order to break through these issue, I think Japanese women have to stand up independently. We need to utilize the chance effectively when presented before us.” What do you think that women can be doing to help make equality changes? “I think women have to stand up and deal with things independently. This will be the start line for making equality changes.” Do you have any predictions for how things will evolve in 2018? “I think women equality will be standard in 2018. There will be less voice of #metoo and #timesup once things have been set, which means women have to be standing by ourselves, not replying only badly to men. And of course, take all responsibility of our actions. I think this “taking responsibility” is the key factor that Japanese women should learn in 2018 including me.” Do you have any words of advice for our SWAAY audience? “I would like to advise that age and gender does not matter. If we could judge situations more calmly and make each decision straight, we will be able to have our big dreams achieved. There is quote from “Self-help” published by Samuel Smiles in 1859 that says ‘The half of failure is that your house is suddenly discouraged when he/she is jumping and tighten the reins.’ I hope that all women in the world have both big dream and self-respect to achieve what we want.” Nerd Unit I love hearing Matsouka’s empowering words and her dreams for the future of female equality not just in the workplace, but worldwide. Living in the United States, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day of what’s happening here, but these are issues that are being fought in many different countries and standing strong together and using our voices, we’ll be able to see a huge shift in 2018. Talk about girl power going global. Allison Cooper Allison Cooper is a full time blogger at Project Motherhood and freelance writer. You can find her balancing her time equally between writing, spending time with her family, running, or sipping on strong coffee! Connect with her on twitter for daily chit chat and mama musings!