2007年03月02日

Activities for Gender Equal Participation in Physics and S&T - Harvest of International and Asian Networking -

Activities for Gender Equal Participation in Physics and S&T
- Harvest of International and Asian Networking -



Eiko Torikai
University of Yamanashi, Japan


Concerning the percentage of women participation in research and development in physics, Japan is almost the bottom in the world. Stimulated by leading activities on Women in Physics of the International Union on Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), two major physical societies, the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP) and the Physical Society of Japan (JPS), have carried out the surveys about the research environment of their members both in academia and industries in 2001 to understand the present situation and future perspectives. The results were reported in ВФhe International Conference on Women in Physics held at Paris in March 2002.
After the conference, both societies have established the Gender Equality Promotion Committees formally to realize the resolution of the conference. The principal objective was to embrace the issue from a wider perspective than just a simple measure to enhance women’s positions in the fields, while meeting ever-more diverse visions and needs of scientists and engineers. They have been organized symposia and informal meetings during their own domestic conferences to stimulate discussions and raise the level of awareness in physics and engineering since then.
Now these actions for the Gender Equality have become nationwide by the establishment of the Japan Inter-Society Liaison Association Committee for Promoting Equal Participation of Men and Women in Science and Engineering (EPMEWSE). The EMPEWSE has been launched in October 2002 on the initiative of both physical societies and the Chemical Society of Japan. At moment, fifty academic societies, including twenty observers, on various academic fields are involved covering mathematics, electronics and information, chemistry and materials engineering, physics, life science and biology, civil engineering and mechanical engineering. Among these academic fields, life science and biology had the highest women percentage (13~20%) in their total membership, followed by civil engineering, chemical and material engineering, mathematics, electronics and information, physics, and mechanical engineering in that order. The percentage of JPS women membership in 2003 was only 4.4 %.
The more extensive survey research project was conducted by EPMEWSE in 2003 under the commission of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology°°of Japan (MEXT). Almost 20,000 members (84% male and 16% female) responded to the survey, indicating increasing attention on the gender issue in the science and engineering professionals. The survey result has revealed that the serious under representation of women in higher-ranked positions is a common problem in all fields and in any affiliation. Ratios of limited-term full-time employees, part-time employees, and students are high in female respondents. The results of the detailed analysis of the survey concerning classification by age group and affiliation showed that the gender gap is even wider in the distribution of resources, such as number of subordinates and amount of yearly budget, which are critical for research and development projects.
Based on the survey results, the JPS and the EPMEWSE have advanced a set of recommendations to the governmental authorities, academic related institutes and organizations; one for the flexible childcare supports and the other for improvement of research granting systems for the post-doctoral fellows and part-time researchers in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The Science Council of Japan (SCJ) has held the special public lecture entitled “How Far Have We Come? Equal Participation between Men and Women” in 2004 on the initiative and full support of the JSAP. In order to attract girls into S&T, we have carried out the Summer School for High School Girls – for Scientists and Engineers of Tomorrow – in 2005 and 2006.
These activities effectively help foster public understanding and awareness of the state of women in physics, especially among policy-making authorities. In 2005, the Cabinet has drawn up two Basic Plans for 2006-2010, i.e., the Science and Technology Basic Plan for the third term and the Basic Plan for the Gender-Equal Society for the second term. The EPMEWSE, and member societies as well, undertook actions for the government to write up the specific policies to promote participation of women in science and engineering. Those requirements were reflected in the Plans. They also advanced the requirement for the SCJ to increase the women percentage towards 30% in total area in the near future. In FY 2006, the government has promoted the supporting policy for women in science and technology by the budget of 666 million JPY in total.
In conclusion, evidence-based (Scientific Data, Personal Experience) advocacy changes the policies of the government. The international as well Asian networking of women in physics has triggered these movements. The activities just got started on the long way to develop the society of gender equal participation.

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