Taeko Uemura (Councilor of Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT)) and Masato Murakami (President of SIT) Discussion
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Shibaura Institute of Technology aims to be a university where various members are respected and can exercise their abilities, where these diverse impacts on delivering development and innovation. As an important part of such diversity expansion, we have been working on gender equality promotion.
Meanwhile, in Japanese society, there is still a big gender gap in the success of various fields. In manufacturing and every other industry as well, the proportion of women in engineering is low, and the slow-growth situation where women in a leading position, has not been resolved.
As a center of excellence to contribute talents to the society, universities should change this situation and play a leading role in creating a gender-equal society that anyone can demonstrate personality and ability, regardless of gender in various fields.
By considering these backgrounds, we interviewed Taeko Uemura, who has led the company as a president for a long time since as a university student and now a President and Representative Director of Kyonan Souko Co. and the Councilor of SIT, and Masato Murakami who leads university’s development as a President of SIT.
We offered a discussion about university reform and gender equality, especially on issues and possibilities in the transition period where gender equality progresses at science and technology universities.
Towards Gender Equality “Diversity and Inclusion”
In 1999, Basic Act for Gender Equal Society was established. This Act is intended to "make men and women equally participate in activities in all fields of society as equal members of society".
However, in the world, respecting and accepting not only gender but also human diversity, which includes race, nationality, age and even physical characteristics is the mainstream notion. This is an important idea in the globalization that our university is promoting, and it also leads to the creation of universities that can coexist with people with special needs. Society and organization are composed of diverse people. It is important for these people to cultivate a culture in which everyone can participate in the organization fairly regardless of each "difference". We call this “inclusion”.
As a matter of fact, “diversity and inclusion” is commonplace in globally active companies. It is said that when looking at the future of the company, it is good to see whether women work lively or not in the workplace. I consider university is the same. Unfortunately, even after the Act was established in 1999, Japan continues to be labeled as the country where women's social advancement is most delayed in the world. Ms. Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director who came to Japan the other day, emphasized that women's success would save the Japanese economy. The government aims 202030 which means the goal of raising the percentage of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2020 in all fields such as politics, economics, and education. National university corporations have requested each university to raise the ratio of female faculty up to 17% by 2015. For this reason, some universities decide to fix the number of female faculty recruitment. The vitality of the organization is born by diversity. The creation of innovation that society requests from universities is also born from diversity. By accepting diversity, we hope to advance towards to become a more energetic university.
Let's celebrate diversity.
President of Shibaura Institute of Technology
Since construction, we have nurtured the reliable engineering human resources necessary for society, and believe we should work with all over the university to nurture engineering women, especially today. In addition, we recognize that the university gender equality efforts are one of the leaders' roles that universities should play for social progress.
Therefore, to strengthen the efforts to realize gender equality in the whole university, we established the gender equality promotion office in October 2013. After that, our university was adopted as the following Human Resource Development Program for Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and promoted gender equality under leadership of the first general manager (Prof. Hideko Kunii).
- "Program to Supporting Research Activities of Female Researchers (general type) for 3 years from Heisei 25 (2013) to Heisei 27 (2015)
- "Program to Supporting Research Activities of Female Researchers (collaboration type)" in collaboration with Ochanomizu University and National Institute of Materials Science for 3 years from Heisei 26 (2014) to Heisei 28 (2016)
As a result, we were able to proceed with the development of various systems within the university concerning pregnancy, childbirth, childcare and nursing care, and the development of a network of female researchers.
However, the gender gap index of Japan is 114th (November 2017), and the gender equality is extremely delayed. We will overcome the persistent unconscious bias and division of labor in Japanese society, build an environment where women are more likely to play active roles, and intend to work on the whole university to accelerate quantitative expansion and quality improvement. Thank you for your support and cooperation.
General Manager of Gender Equality Promotion Office