Japanese women, who comprise more than 40% of their country's workforce, are essential to the Japanese economy. Yet they are not typically thought of as managers, at home or abroad. Jean Renshaw challenges that perception in this pathbreaking book, showing readers where and how an "invisible evolution" is occurring in Japanese business. Traditional norms of lifetime employment, the seniority system, and the bureaucratic, tightly knit nature of Japanese industry all restrict women's entry into management. Despite these enormous barriers, the number of Japanese women managers has almost doubled in the last ten years. In an effort to discover the secrets of their success, Renshaw interviewed over 150 successful Japanese women managers. She explored family backgrounds, personal characteristics, socialization, professional experiences, and corporate cultures. This book presents her sometimes surprising discoveries. Renshaw completes the picture by surveying the history of Japanese women in management and discussing the even newer phenomenon of Japanese women who own their own businesses. An eye-opening work for managers of international firms and scholars of business and women's studies, Kimono in the Boardroom reveals the potential of the rising female managerial class to profoundly change the male-dominated culture of modern Japan.