Japanese women in science and engineering: Policy discourse and adjustments over time
In January 2014, in Davos, Prime Minister Abe stated that ‘Japan should be the place that gives women the opportunity to shine. Thirty per cent of people in leadership positions should be occupied by women by 2020’. Japan seems to be finally ready to embrace an increasingly global and competitive environment. Nearly 30 years ago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was introduced to enable companies to fully utilise human resources regardless of gender. However, even in 2016, the proportion of female leaders in corporations was 6.6 per cent. The situation in academia is similar, as the proportion of female researchers is still one of the lowest (15.3 per cent) among OECD countries. The number of Japanese women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) remains particularly low. Why are there so few Japanese women in STEM? In trying to answer this question, the talk will shed light on historical developments and the current gender equality situation in Japan. It shows how policy discourse on gender equality in STEM in Japan has been intertwined with social norms and other policies such as education, family and the labour market.
Dr Naonori Kodate is Assistant Professor in the School of Social Policy, Social Work & Social Justice, University College Dublin. He holds a Ph.D in Political Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was previously Researcher Associate at the NIHR King’s Patient Safety and Service Quality Research Centre. His main research interests include comparative healthcare policy, patient safety, and gender equality in science education. He is a researcher and a visiting lecturer at the Hokkaido University’s Public Policy Research Centre, and a senior researcher at the Todai Policy Alternatives Research Institute at The University of Tokyo.