from http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b … 806731.ece
A well-educated, chain-smoking, occasionally foul-mouthed comic-book character has become a heroine for millions of Japanese women who are battling for recognition in the country’s male-dominated workplace.
Through her exploits, women have begun to see how, perhaps, they might overturn decades of gender inequality and chip away at one of Japan’s most frequently decried statistics – that, across all industries, only 10 per cent of managers are female.
To succeed in her working life, Hiroko Matsukata, a fictional magazine news editor, deploys a range of arts that her fans are quickly adopting themselves. The 28-year-old is sweet when she needs to be and flint-hearted when threatened. She is even able to control her use of Japanese, suddenly dropping the niceties of speech traditionally expected of women when she needs male colleagues to take her seriously.
But her most powerful weapon has turned out to be a controversial one: when work gets tough and her male bosses pile on the pressure, she flicks on her psychological “Man Switch” and is transformed into a career-focused, success-driven typhoon of productivity.
“Absolutely, women need a Man Switch,” Moyoco Anno, the 36-year-old creator of the comic, says. “It doesn’t imply that men are superior to women, but that people need to understand better the differences of how men and women behave in the workplace and use that.”
For decades the Japanese comic industry has done a roaring trade in cartoons that chronicle the miseries and triumphs of the salaryman. Anno’s comic is a deliberate role reversal. The mould-breaking comic, Hataraki Man (Working Man), tracks the agonising day-to-day trials of a woman trying to balance the modern desire for a career with the dead weight of traditional Japanese social values. It has become so popular that it has been made into an animated cartoon for girls and a prime-time television drama for women.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck