Women in Science and Technology - A lesson learned from some Asian Countries -

Women in Science and Technology
A lesson learned from some Asian Countries

By: Wati Hermawati
Senior Researcher/Program Coordinator RESGEST
Indonesian Institute of Sciences
wherma2002@yahoo.com ; whermawati@resgest.org


The issues of women and girls in S&T in developing countries have been much emphasized in the lack of participation of women and girls in S&T arenas as well as un-equal access to benefit of S&T between women and men. Results of the study conducted by the National Focal Points of the Regional Secretariat for Gender Equity in S&T (RESGEST) in several countries of the Asia-Pacific region revealed that in general there are gender differences with respect to representation, career development and even the benefit of technology development. The under representation of women in S&T mainly in education, S&T careers and structural decision making and advisory bodies of S&T. There are more boys than girls who take S&T subjects in the higher education. There are more men than women to pursue careers in S&T sectors. There are more men than women in the S&T decision making position. The benefits of development had not always been distributed and shared equally by men and women. Many of the development projects had either ignored women or marginalized them, or the projects itself has resulted negative consequences for women, such as increase the workload, depletion and pollution of water sources, domestic violence and decreased control over resources, etc. However, a result of the scanning activities under the collaboration program of UNESCO and UNDP on gender, science and technology shows that if gender perspectives are included since the beginning of the project formulation, design, and in the implementation stage, the disadvantaged women and girls could benefit greater from the projects. This paper will elaborate the current condition of the participation of women in S&T in some Asian countries, as well as the benefit of S&T for women. The paper also presents several constraints faced by women in S&T arenas and efforts made to promote and facilitate women’s entry in S&T activities. At the regional level, a network on gender and S&T is established to enhance national capability in promoting gender equality and equity in S&T in the region.


歓迎の挨拶:Need of Long-Term Policy for Woman's Participation in Technology

Need of Long-Term Policy for Woman's Participation in Technology

Akira Nagashima
Executive Director, Yokoham National University, Japan

Although I am not the expert on the subject, I realize that we must work hard to promote women’s participation in science and technology. The international workshop organized under the leadership of Professor Ogawa was a very timely and important event. It was a great chance to understand the situation of the subject in diversified Asian countries and also to stimulate the movement in each country by analysing common underlying problems.
A few years ago, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME), one of the largest professional societies in Japan, was blamed by the Science Council of Japan because the percentage of women members in JSME was one of the lowest among major professional societies in Japan. Many statistics indicated that, especially in the field of engineering, woman’s participation is low in Japan. But even in this bad Japan, three girl students were formally admitted to the school of science at Tohoku University as early as in 1913, almost 100 years ago. Since then, as far as I understand, participation in the field of science is better than that in engineering. Even in the field of computer engineers, woman’s participation is low. The working conditions at heavy industries such as iron/steel factory or shipbuilding or construction/civil engineering have significantly improved in recent years. People should realize that the work of engineers, at least in industrialized countries, has changed to much sophisticated or ordinary job. So, obviously this is not because of so-called muscular discrimination.
It is often said that the science community and the technology community are completely different world as far as industrial influence or business community concerns. Engineers are (or are expected) motivated to apply latest accomplishments of science to real world. Business as well as every aspect of the social life is under the heavy influence of science and technology. Women are not well represented even in the scientist/researcher community. But, the situation is much worse in the engineer’s community although the role and responsibility of engineer is increasingly heavy. In a sense, this is the engineering dominant world. Women should play more visible role also in engineers’ community. Engineers’ participation in the society is much larger than that of thirty years ago.
The problem we have to consider is how we can improve women’s participation not only in science but also in engineering. The root is deep and the long term policy is needed. To increase woman engineers, the number of girl students in engineering courses at higher education institutions/schools has to increase. In order to increase girl students, the number of applicants has to increase. Cultivation of young people’s motivation toward science and technology is one of the key factors. So, to be more fundamental, understanding of basic science and technology among parents should be improved. This is partly the matter of elementary education. Japanese government is slowly wakening up to tackle this issue.
As the ironical fruit of the workshop, Japanese participants had to repeatedly learn that women’s participation in science in Japan in any measure has been the lowest among Asian countries. It was statistically shown in presentations by all of presenters from over sea countries. The more shocking thing to me was that there have been almost no effective actions or long-term policies toward this issue comparing with other Asian countries. In governmental committees and other influential organizations, we should discuss this issue in presence of many male members.
I would like to repeat the issue of engineers. This was just one example of many complicated subjects which we discussed in the workshop. Woman’s role in much broader fields such as scientists, engineers, practitioners and so on, was discussed. Participants representing broader world of science and technology and medicine could gather. Through the discussions, we had realized, on one hand, that the issue was only a part of complicated social network and could learn, on the other hand, that some countries have been making real progresses by accumulated efforts of individuals and/or groups. Especially in the field of technology, it is important to encourage movements by peoples in industry and professional societies.
Concluding this short remark, I would like to mention one more aspect considering the nature of this particular workshop. That is the special concern to historical background and tradition of Asian countries. For example, policy and tactics to attain the full-scale women’s participation in technology and science in Asia will not be same as those in US in the last 20 years. More studies are needed to make this point clear. The present workshop and additional studies under the leadership of Professor Ogawa were really fruitful and I wish this tie could make a powerful move toward our common goal, fully active women’s participation in every field of science and technology.



I would like to greet you as head of the program, メInternational Workshop on ヤWomen and Science / Technologyユ Network in Asiaモ funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Toyota Foundation.
I am very glad to have been able to invite active researchers from Korea, the Republic China, Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Japan.
Last year I had an opportunity to attend the Joint OECD-French government international workshop on women in scientific careers. I was the only delegate from Asia. The delegates from Europe and US lamented the lack of information on women in S&T in Asia.
However, I also had been busy studying EC and US policies with respect to women in S&T and had little knowledge about the Asian situation of women in S&T. After coming back from France, I began to plan this workshop as a first step to broadening understanding of this issue. The EC and US have a special interest in the mainstream trends in two of BRICs countries.
Generally speaking, the EC and US share the problems of a low birthrate and a graying society. However, in Asia, the issues to be considered are not uniform. Japan is the fastest graying country in the world, and Korea is worrying about the rapidity of being an aged society, but most Asian countries are rich in young people.
Variation such as this may threaten to prevent us from building a common foundation for discussion, but an old Chinese proverb tells us "even the road of a thousand leagues begins with one step."
Last year, just a week after the OECD workshop, an International Workshop on Asian Women in Physics was held in Pohang, Korea, sponsored by the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics. Professor Youngah Park kindly invited me to join the workshop, which was very instructive for me because I had a plan to hold a workshop in Japan the following year. I appreciate Professor Parkユs efforts as a forerunner in this area in Asia.
Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to Chubu university for offering the convenient place of our conference.
I hope every participant finds this workshop to be of value.
Thank you very much for listening.

Mariko OGAWA

科学研究費、基盤研究C、企画調査 18年度報告書--アジアにおける女性科学者・技術者のネットワークの構築


課題番号  18631011

平成18年度 科学研究費補助金

平成19年度 3月

研究代表者 小川 眞里子
(三重大学 人文学部 教授)


ワークショップの開催に先立って2005年から行ってきたことがいくつか役立った。まずプログラムに先立って、研究代表者小川は2005年11月に韓国、浦項で行われたAPCIP International Workshop on Asian Woman in Physicsに招いていただき、日本の現状を報告するとともに、アジアの物理学分野での男女共同参画の熱心な推進の様子を学び、またそこで山梨大学 鳥養映子氏、韓国明知大学Youngah Park氏、中国科学院物理学研究所Ling-An Wu氏との出会いに恵まれた。以後本プログラムの目的の達成に向けて、鳥養氏には研究分担者、Park氏とWu氏には研究協力者となって協力していただくことになった。
さらに、2006年2月、3月には文部科学省の招きでインドの国立科学技術開発研究所(NISTAD)研究員のニーラム・クマール氏、韓国国立全北大学科学文化研究センター長の李恩京氏が来日し、お茶の水大学ジェンダー研究センターでも講演され、トヨタ財団のプログラム推進メンバーとともに講演を聴く機会を得て交流を深めることができた。文部科学省で行われた講演については、科学技術政策研究所第1調査グループの三浦有紀子氏によって講演内容がまとめられ『科学技術政策研究所 講演録179、188』としてそれぞれ公開されている。こうして科研プログラムの応募時に研究協力者にお願いしていたクマール氏および李氏にも、プログラム開始以前に直接話し合いの機会をもつことができた。
これらのメンバーとも相談して、ネットワークの核となりうる人選を進めて、インドネシアからはユネスコ・アジア太平洋機関の上級研究員Wati Hermawati氏に、また台湾については国立高雄教育大学のLi-Ling Tsai氏と高雄医科大学のLing-fang Cheng氏に研究協力者を依頼した。また躍進著しい中国やインドの、またマレーシアのIT産業関係の情報に詳しい人の参加も望んでいたが、適切な人材を探すことができず北京大学のe-ビジネス・センターのCeline Shen氏に研究協力をお願いした(結果的にはShen氏の都合により、助手のJianqiao氏が代わって来日し報告された)。

研究代表者 小川眞里子

This program to develop a network of woman scientists and engineers in Asia started in November 2005 with the aid of a grant from the Toyota Foundation. However, I also applied for a Japanese government Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research because the Toyota grant seemed insufficient to invite many researchers from various Asian countries. As the grant fortunately was awarded, the first international workshop was held in September for three days on the Chubu University Nagoya campus, aimed at constructing such a network of woman scientists and engineers. Though it was a cozy workshop involving only 20 people, it was all the nicer for participants to get to know each other and to engage in free and frank discussion.
Before organizing the workshop, several events served for us to hold the workshop. The representative of this program, Prof. Ogawa was invited to the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP) International Workshop on Asian Women in Physics held at Pohang, South Korea in November, 2005 and learned how Asian physicists were making efforts to promote a system in which men and women could engage equally. At that time I formed friendships with Prof. Eiko Torikai of Yamanashi University, Japan, Prof. Youngah Park of Myongji University, South Korea and Prof. Ling-An Wu of the Institute of Physics, the Chinese Academy of Science. They will become the main members of this program.
Moreover, the Japanese Ministry of Education happened to invite Dr. Neelam Kumar, of the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development, India and Prof. Eun Kyoung Lee of Chonbuk National University, to lecture the ministry, in February and March, 2006. They also gave lectures at the Gender Institute of Ochanomizu University in which the core members of the program funded by the Toyota Foundation participated. It gave us a good opportunity to get to know each other and we found Dr Kumar and Prof. Lee to be very positive towards our program.
After consulting with these researchers, we nominated several activists that we should like to ask to join in our program: Ms Wati Hermawati, Senior Researcher for Asia and the Pacific UNESCO office, Jakarta, Dr. Li-Ling Tsai, National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan, and Prof. Ling-fang Cheng, Kaohsiung Medical Uiversity, Taiwan. We also looked for collaborators who have information on gender in the IT industries in China, India and Malaysia. However, finding suitable researchers was difficult, so Ms Moriya (Japan) and Dr. Jianqiao (China) were invited. As to the other collaborators in Japan, please see this report (below). Next, I will outline the process since the beginning of this program.
From our understanding of the lectures of Dr. Kumar and Prof. Lee, we have come to recognize that a prior appreciation of the education system and gender situation in each country is indispensable. So we asked the participants to report on their respective countriesユ education systems and distributed questionnaires among them in order to grasp the gender systems in each country and make comparisons easier. I think it is very significant to offer a comparison of the education systems and gender situation in South Korea, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, and Japan in the conference handbook. I would like to thank Ms Rikitake and Kamogawa for this work.
We prepared a conference handbook for our workshop, which contains PPT slides of each presentation, with aid from the Toyota Foundation. In the workshop Prof. Torikai and Prof. Park introduced their enlightening activities for high school girl students who hope to major in science and technology in the universities. Though the conference handbook did not include these PPT, we are happy to be able to show them in this report.
Generally speaking, throughout the EU and the US a lower birthrate and greying society are key phrases, but in Asia these only apply in Korea and Japan. Other Asian countries have a lot of young people and are aiming for economic development in the near future. On the other hand, the propagation of education and the tools for the infrastructure of life are important problems. Ms Hermawati of Indonesia emphasized science and technology for women instead of women in science and technology. In many Asian countries the gender equality problem cannot be seperated from the development problem. This is a key point for us to promote our understanding in Asian network.
As I mentioned above, the workshop was successful for tightening the network and deepening friendships with each other. Relaxing which the small group encouraged participants to express their opinions frankly and frequently. On the last day we rushed into the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology together just an hour before closing time and after that we enjoyed misonikomi-udon, a local specialty of Nagoya, which all the participants had hoped to be able to try.
I believe the aim of this program came as close to fulfillment as could be hoped.

Program Head Mariko OGAWA

(三重大学 人文学部 教授)
(中部大学 国際関係学部 助教授)
(山梨大学大学院 医学l工学総合研究部 教授)
(神戸大学 国際情報学部 教授)
(中部大学 中部高等学術研究所 教授/横浜国立大学 常任理事)
(お茶の水女子大学 理学部 教授)
(中部大学 国際関係学部 助教授)
李恩京Eunkyoung Lee
Neelam Kumar
Youngah Park
 (Myongji University, Professor)
Ling-An Wu
(Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor)
Jianqiao Ge
(Peking University e-Business Center, Assistant)
Ling-fang Cheng 
(Kaohsiung Medical University, Associate Professor & Director)
Li-Ling Tsai
(National Kaohsiung Normal University, Associate Professor)
Wati Hermawati  

(Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Senior Researcher/Program Coordinator for the Regional Secretariat for Gender, Science and Technology (RESGEST) for Southeas Asia and the Pacific)






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