Being a Working Mother ("WM") had a big influence on my career path.
Here, I would like to briefly talk about how I have been making my way
through four companies in the past ten years.
First Company: Japanese Accounting Firm "O" (worked for 5 months)
I started my career with "O" Accounting Firm. The reason I decided
to work there was that it was the biggest player in Japan in this field:
no other specific reason. Having passed the second stage CPA exam
in my Sophomore year, I needed to gain a one-year professional
experience as an intern - while being a Junior student in my University
- in order to be qualified for the final stage CPA exam.
Japan was in the midst of the bubble economy and it was quite easy to
find a job. Passing the second stage quite young meant that one is
entitled to join any company even without an interview and the company
would be happy to offer scholarships. I must say I wasn't good at
English at that time, so even the slightest idea of working for a foreign
firm had not occurred to me.
Naturally, this kind of mindless job-searching did not yield satisfactory
results. I could never get used to the office environment:
no woman around, no friendly colleague to talk with, all the customers
being middle-aged men whose only concern was golf, and no training
system in the company really existed as is often the case with
Japanese companies. I had worked here part-time 10days/month until I
finally decided to quit with 6-months pregnancy for my first baby.
This experience left a negative impression for both sides. For my side,
the experience was bad enough to make me a Japanese-company-phobia where working women
were not welcome. And for the employer's side, I'm sure they got to dislike hiring
working women who is likely to leave the job in a short period for her pregnancy,
after bearing all the costs for the final stage CPA candidate.
Second Company: Foreign-Affiliated Accounting Firm "A" (worked for nearly 4 years)
Then I looked for a job where no business trips and no overtime would
be required. I was already a mother when I graduated University,
having my first baby girl Tomoyo in my Senior year. At that time,
being a mother meant more to me than my profession.
The Professor in my University recommended me to a foreign-affiliated
accounting firm "A", which turned out to exceed my expectation by far.
In Japan their operation was relatively small, but in their country of origin
it was among "the Big Six", with a very good training system:
e.g. the company paid for my English language courses where I brushed up most
of my language skills to get to the top-rated class. Overall, about a quarter
of my time in the office was spent for the various training offered.
I gradually gained professional experience through my assignments in
business accounting, business consulting, and systems consulting. My
superior taught me with utmost care and attention, since the ability of
the staff member meant the quality of the company. Gradually I needed to
do some overtime but was still exempted from business trips. I was getting
prepared for becoming a Manager.
It was in this stage that I became pregnant with my second baby girl
Fumika. The Personnel Committee decided to postpone
my promotion to a managerial position because I was expecting,
despite the fact that my performance ranked the top among the colleague
members. Many of my superiors persuaded me to continue on my job, not
wanting to let go of a staff member who had been well-trained for three
years. Whatsoever, I started to feel some distrust to this firm.
After my maternity leave, I got back to a position which was not a
Manager, but getting paid as being such.
Soon after this, a professional search firm introduced me to
a Derivatives Trader position in a foreign banking institution.
The position was to overtake a female trader who will soon be on her
maternity leave. Since I had experienced auditing and consulting of
financial institutions, I was very much interested in this opportunity, and after
several interviews, I luckily got the position - among many other
candidates, and with a 5 month-old baby, which the employer was aware
of but didn't mind of.
Third Company: Foreign Banking Institution "C" (Worked for 3 years)
I was deeply impressed with the environment this company had: it was so
friendly to the WMs. At my first job, just being a woman was peculiar,
and at the second one, being a WM was special. But here, it was the contrary:
almost every department had some WMs, and at Christmas time her family
members were welcomed to the party. On the other hand, the job was demanding.
Particularly, I found it hard to come to the office in the very early
morning hours when the daycare center was not yet open. My position required a
very independent responsibility without the superior's close supervision
compared to my other prior jobs. The first year was a hard one, but soon
I got used to it.
Gradually I wanted to challenge to some new position,
and fortunately I could join another department as a Researcher. However,
my interest was now directed to something beyond the financial markets
and I started to look for some other job outside the bank.
Fourth Company: Consulting Firm "M" (1998-present)
In this company, the output by a staff member is all that is asked for:
not how or who. He/she is evaluated solely by the result, and not by how
late he/she stayed at the office. Here, one has to make progress in some
way; otherwise, staying in the same stage means he/she has to leave.
Surely, they hired me well aware of the fact that I am a WM. The firm
even has a WM among the partners. In January 1999 I had my
third baby girl and had a maternity leave for 6 months. They don't regard
WM as being special but regards it natural to take a day off when the child
gets sick, and I can attend the meetings through the phone. Here I
am not "THE WM Mugi", but I am just Mugi, and happen to be a WM, and I do
enjoy being regarded as such.
Not to mention, the job is quite challenging. I do the overtimes,
business trips, and at busy times I have to work at weekends too. From time
to time I have long business trips over a month, and my kids and husband
have to bear this...but I am rewarded when my kids say "Mom is doing really
great, so we have to do great too." After nearly ten years'
experience, now I am able to enjoy being a WM from the bottom of my heart.
Field of Mugi's History
Its origin was PATIO, organized by the members of Working Mother's Forum
in @Nifty which is a large service provider in Japan.
At first its members were only a few, and I have never expected that
it would grow so much!
Here I will tell you about Field of Mugi's History in brief.
Step 1: Days of extra PATIO in Working Mother's Forum
(from autumn to winter 1997)
At the beginning of 1997 WM Tengoku, which was a board in the Lady's Forum in
@Nifty, had developed into Working Mother's Forum. I was so happy and visited there
every day because it was the only board dedicated to working mothers.
One day I wrote there that I went on a day trip to enjoy hot springs
and snowboarding with my colleague . A lot of people had responded
to my article and I ended up organizing the first national off-line
meeting of Working Mother's Forum. We met
together in Kanzan-ji spa near Hamamatsu (300 kilometers west of Tokyo) in summer 1997.
20 people stayed overnight, including 10 members from Kanto area (the region where Tokyo is).
We hit it closer in the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, and from time to time we began to have our
own off-line meetings. We used PATIO (a little forum for personal use) in Nifty to chat with
each other and meet each other off-line for about half a year.
About half of the original members in the above PATIO
have become the SYSOPs which we organized later.
Meanwhile I happened to change my job in October 1997. I had 2 free
months before the new work and decided to make my own homepage.
I asked my husband who was sitting beside me for his advice on the title,
and he gave me the name "Mugibatake (Field of Mugi)" right away.
I thought it was a good idea and decided to use it. At the beginning,
the contents of the Field of Mugi consisted of my hobbies like snowboarding,
billiards, squash etc. and a simple BBS. Really it was a typical personal homepage.
There was one point about my homepage which differed from normal
personal homepages. It was the password-protected membership system of
BBS of which the aim was to protect us from malicious writers.
I wanted to make my BBS like PATIO with limited members.
Step 2: Linking to Survival Guide homepage and the early days
(from the end of 1997 to the beginning of 1998)
STEP 3 : Organization of SYSOPs and group management
(Spring, 1998 - Spring, 1999)
Field of Mugi happened to develop because of two coincidences.
One is the membership system
I introduced to my BBS. The other is that the owner of the famous homepage
"Survival Guide for WM
and their families" happened to be one of the PATIO members. She was looking
for a BBS dedicated for working
women when she found mine. She began to use the BBS of Field of
Mugi for her homepage visitors.
Lots of people started to visit my homepage which had been
so quiet with only the members of PATIO.
Of course not all visitors joined us. One of the PATIO members
who is still one of our SYSOPs had even said that we would fail
because of the membership system. I thought over how to increase
the membership, and decided to open my personal profile in Field of Mugi as an
essay so that people who would think I am interesting would
join Field of Mugi. Most of the first 50 members
came from Survival Guide homepage and said that they had joined
us because they liked my essay.
With 50 members there were somehow a few articles a day posted
to the forum of my homepage.
At that time, I was still in between jobs and had free time, so I
myself posted articles frequently
to keep my forum active. Gradually I became dissatisfied with
the BBS system I was using. I reviewed about
20-30 free BBS systems until I discovered nbbs, which I use now.
Introduction of this nbbs made our communication much easier.
I tried to keep our members interested at all times. We regularly
chatted at night, proposed discussion topics for
a fixed period of time and sent newsletters of Field of Mugi
(Mugi-batake-tsushin) every month or every other month.
In 1998 the members began to get closer through chat even without me.
More and more topics were posted to the board, and they chatted with
each other for a longer time. The members who actively participated
in the homepage at that time are now our SYSOPs.
It was Spring 1998 when Field of Mugi took a great leap forward. As
members increased, managing alone gradually became a burden on me.
Therefore, I presented my concept of group management by SYSOPs
at the off-line meeting in Shibuya with 20 members, held by one of the present
SYSOPs today. The members agreed to my
idea and started organizing the SYSOPs involving applicants through the
The main responsibilities of SYSOPs in those days were board control and reduction
of postings with no response. These efforts eventually activated the board,
making it more appealing, and then more and more new members began to join.
In addition, our exclusive system engineer voluntarily joined us.
This was when Field of Mugi had begun to flourish.
First of all, a lot of good ideas began to come up more easily when others had
joined the management. These ideas were successively carried out by our SE
as if she had swung a magic wand. As a result, the number of members soared up
only with words of mouth and search engine, not necessarily by advertisement.
In addition, Field of Mugi had become a topic in the mass media.
STEP4 : Social contribution and self-realization
(Spring, 1999 - present)
For almost one year from summer 1998, Field of Mugi kept going without
dramatic events. However, in spring 1999, my boss sent me an intra-mail,
suggesting that we make good use of resources of Field of Mugi.
She said that we should organize the amassed heap of knowledge in
Field of Mugi and make it open to public so that we could give a sense of
security to non-member working mothers of the present and the future.
Therefore, we planned a project and edited the accumulated articles,
and finally constructed "Wisdom of Working Mothers". This was our first
big project involving more than 50 volunteers.
After that, since I had done a series of Internet-related projects at work,
I wanted to make Field of Mugi as an original and up-to-date experiment
for net-communication. Therefore, we carried out some projects such as
"Satisfaction Survey", editing "Field of Mugi Navigator" and "Field of Mugi Quiz".
And now, 7-8 projects are running regularly. The highly motivated members
keep increasing, and Field of Mugi's prosperity has been accelerated even more.
The present purpose of Field of Mugi is not only to provide a communication
space for chatting and gossiping. We would also provide a space for
self-realization for present and future working mothers.
We hope to continuously improve Field of Mugi and grow together
with our members through a variety of projects.
Bringing up children as a Working Mother
Do you like bringing up children? For me, the answer is sometimes "Yes" but sometimes "No".
When I come home from the office, my kids greet me with the happiest
smiles. I would think, "Oh, I'm so happy to have such pretty kids!"
But when I'm relaxed at home on a precious weekend hoping to read
my favorite books or watch some video tapes, my daughters are always
shouting, "Mommy, mommy!" "Play with me, Mom!" "Let's go out now!"
Don't you have such an experience? Aren't you irritated
I occasionally get tired of my job and think of quitting it.
I always feel myself being halfway both in child-care and in work.
But I believe my efforts will be rewarded someday if I continue to
work hard. And I'd like to care for my daughters and be a tender mother
in the best way I can.
Being a Working Mother in Japan
Though most of the male workers have children, people regard working
mothers as somewhat peculiar in Japan. I have been working
very hard as a full-time employee. But when I come home late after
working overtime, I have to clean rooms, do laundry and cook dinner
almost all by myself. Of course my husband does his own job but
scarcely undertakes housekeeping chores. That's because he is a typical
I have heard that average working mothers in Japan spend 16 hours
in total for their own jobs and housekeeping.
Can you believe this? Don't you think they are too busy?
In job interviews in Japan, interviewers would always ask mothers,
"Who is taking care of your children?"
"Can you work overtime?"
"Can you make a business trip?".
But who asks fathers such questions?
Or if working mothers were too much devoted to their jobs and spent
little time with their children, they might feel "guilty".
But I think "working fathers" never feel like that.
As I fortunately live near my parent's house, I can occasionally
depend on their help. Nevertheless, I'm always not sure whether
I am making the right choices as a working mother. So I think
single working mothers or working mothers who can depend on neither
their husband nor parents must be more frustrated and insecure.
I hope we can talk about various interesting matters on the board here
in Field of Mugi.