Bowdoin Reads

Leigh Hall, '14 is reading...

Office Ladies and Salaried Men
by Yuko Ogasawara

Office Ladies and Salaried Men is a study done by Yuko Ogasawara about gender, power, and work in large corporations in Japan. She finds much of the clerical work is carried out by young women known as "office ladies" (OLs) or "flowers of the workplace." OLs serve tea to the men and type and file their reports. They are exempt from the traditional lifetime employment and have few opportunities for promotion but in some ways enjoyed this because it gave them flexibility. In this interesting ethnography, Yuko Ogasawara exposes the ways that these women resist men's power, and why the men, despite their exclusive command of authority, often subject themselves to the women's control. Ogasawara details the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that OLs who are frustrated by demeaning, dead-end jobs frustrate their managers and subvert the power structure to their advantage. Using gossip, outright work refusal, and public gift-giving as manipulative strategies, they can ultimately make or break the careers of the men. This book was really engaging because the analysis illustrates how the relationships between women and work, and women and men, are far more complex than many think especially in the context of Japanese corporations.

1 comment | Find in library

Submitted by gstowe on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 12:10am.
Fascinating - and a thoughtful review, too. Such a strange, mysterious way to work around something that no one wants to talk about. Murikami's novels have alluded a lot to the culture of the Japanese corporate work place. believe he finds them to be like a prison.