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This article presents an overview of women’s representation in leadership positions in major institutional spheres in Japan. It explores the literature on recent changes and institutional and psychological barriers to women’s mobility. Although women have acted as agents of change who challenge the relationship between family and workplace, women’s representation in leadership positions remains low. Their tight embeddedness in the institutions of family and community that is built upon the traditional gender division of labor inhibits their aspirations in pursuing non-family careers and has the effect of limiting women’s access to channels of leadership. In response to changing family needs and growing international pressures, the government has initiated policies for gender equality and women leadership. However, barriers to gender equality will persist unless certain organizational conditions and resources are promoted.