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Yui Mitsuhashi works on the Formula Racing Club 2018 car.

Yui Mitsuhashi works on the Formula Racing Club 2018 car.

Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg
Businessweek
Business

Japan’s Carmakers Have Got a Problem With Women

The global auto industry is still mostly a man’s world. Changing that is an especially tall order in Japan.

Japan’s carmakers, facing the worst labor shortage in decades, have seen the light: hire more women. The problem is they’re all having the same epiphany at the same time and fighting over the world’s smallest pool of female engineering graduates.

The story of Yui Mitsuhashi illustrates the bind. Captain of a team that builds race cars at prestigious Osaka University, the 24-year-old engineering student would be among the most prized recruits for Toyota Motor Corp. or Nissan Motor Co., if only she wanted to work for them. But as much as she loves cars, she isn’t sure she wants to spend her life in the industry, which has a reputation for long hours and big gender imbalances.