Yui Kubota, Yoshika Maeshiro, Misa Ogura, Megumi Kitazawa
July 20, 2017
On May 25 in 2017, special lecture named "Women and Technology" was held in Showa Women's University. The guest speaker was Kotomi Kobayashi who is the managing director of Manabelle Co., Ltd.
As an entrepreneur and a mother as well, she is representing Manabelle (manaberu, literally meaning “you can learn”), a company developing applications for vocational training. Codebelle is one of the applications that women can easily start to learn computer programing by making use of their spare time. Codebelle has selected as one of the Best of 2016, the 10 innovative applications of the year by The Apple store.
Hard to Come Back to Workplace
But Kobayashi did not jump into "the start-up" after graduating from university. She started her career as a system engineer at a large company and then quit the job after she gave a birth. When she decided to come back to the workforce, she searched for a position of either manager or controller which meets such conditions that the office should be near her home and that there are no overtime working hours and weekend duties. She applied for over 50 companies only to find none of them accepted her.
She talked about this painful experience with one of her friends and realized that she had to change her strategy. She revised her resume from the one to promote her general qualifications and good characteristics to the one to promote her outstanding programming skills.
Thanks to this strategy, she finally got a new full-time job at a temporary manpower supply agency. She helped finding jobs for women who wanted to come back to the workplace after giving birth. She learned how hard for these women to get a new job.
According to the Gender Equality Promotion Bureau at the Cabinet Office of Japanese government, there are “M-shaped” curve of female participation ratio to the workforce. It is said to be unique to Japan. The reason of the dropping of ratio among the ages of 20s and 30s is because most women find it difficult to handle both their hard jobs and their family lives after they get married or give birth.
Innovation of Work Style
Kobayashi then found the room for women workers in the information technology industry, which is growing rapidly and globally. She started a new business of Manabelle and secured a new working style of remote work and flexible working hours, which led her the rapid expansion of business.
According to Kobayashi, the most important factor of her success was “to sincerely get along with colleagues.” She listened to the personal ambitions of her staff and incorporated their goals with her business ideals. By helping their dreams, she could obtain human, capital, and material resources for her own business as well. A posture of seriously and sincerely facing her counterparts must have been the key to her business success.
In Japan, the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace was enacted in 2015 and business owners now have to announce the target and ongoing numbers of female participation in their corporate activities. As a result, the environment in which women can be more active in society is gradually improved, but it isn’t easy yet for mothers to get another job again. Manabell and other such applications that Kobayashi develops may encourage more remote works and increase the number of women entrepreneurs. Learning the new IT technology may significantly change the women’s work style in the future.