I have seen the term サラリーマン for men. What is a female who works for a salary, regardless of occupation, called? Is サラリーウーマン appropriate?

  • 3
    Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/6137/…
    – Leebo
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 13:32
  • my question is specific to the female equivalent term for salaryman regardless of occupation. The salaryman term is not addressed in that question or answer.
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 13:37
  • 3
    Right, and that question discusses the options. Keep in mind that a サラリーマン in Japanese is not a word for "a man who earns a salary regardless of occupation." Many occupations that are salary-based would not be included in サラリーマン.
    – Leebo
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 13:43
  • My question is specific to salaried female employees
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


We don't use サラリーウーマン. OL (pronounced オーエル) is a catch-all, wasei-eigo term for female office workers. Don't try to "spell it out" as オフィスレディー, which is usually not understood.

However, some people believe it mainly refers to low-ranking workers who does clerical work, and even English Wikipedia article for this is written with such a prejudiced view:

OL is a female office worker in Japan who performs generally pink collar tasks such as serving tea and secretarial or clerical work.

The Japanese version says it's essentially a neutral term. If you want to avoid misunderstanding, it's safest to just use 会社員 regardless of sex. サラリーマン is becoming a dated word, anyway.

EDIT: Note that both サラリーマン and OL mainly refer to office workers. Blue-collar workers are usually not called サラリーマン even if their income is salary-based.



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