Not so long ago, young Japanese women lived in terminal fear of becoming christmas cakes. Their predetermined goal in life was to find a husband a become a housewife. Higher education for them was seen mostly as an asset in the marriage market, not the foundation of a career.

The OL profession came into being as a way to kill time while looking for a husband, and as a way to meet prospective husbands. Many a married couple first met in the office.

Nowadays, all of this is becoming less universally true as Japanese society is changing.