For new managers in foreign countries, many things can be surprising. For Jean-Marc Gilson, the newly-arrived head of a 90-year-old Japanese chemical giant, it was an absence that stood out.

“I’ve been to 25, 30, 40 meetings so far, and I have yet to see one woman from a management position in any of these meetings,” said Gilson, the Belgian who took over as chief executive officer of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. this month. “I was amazed.”

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