The Context, Process and Consequence of Positive Action Policy for Gender Equality in Academia in the Japanese Government and Universities

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:30
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jun SAKANASHI, Rikkyo University, Japan
This presentation empirically examines the Japanese government’s positive action policy to increase female academics in Japanese tertiary institutions and investigates the context, process and consequences of the policy. The ratio of female to male academics in Japan has historically been low, at just 13.5% in 2000. However, in 2006, the Japanese government initiated a positive action policy to increase the ratio. The model employed was the Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) Program, of the National Science Foundation in the United States. The Japanese government now grants subsidies to ten universities each year for three years in return for them establishing gender equality offices and offer various programs and services to support women.

Two conditions of Japan are behind the policy in the presenter’s point of view. The first is the underrepresentation of women and the need for gender equality in Japanese academic institutions. Japan established the equal opportunity employment law in 1972, and the treatment of women in the labor field improved; however, female participation in politics and academia remains low. Second is a future shortage of human resources in Japan, due to Japan having a super-aged society, and the fact that scientific publications and a Japanese presence in science has dropped. The government is thus exploring the utilization of women as potential human resources to rectify these issues.

As the result of the policy, the ratio of female academics has increased and reached 22.3% in 2015. However, the context, process and consequences of the policy have not yet been investigated. This presentation utilizes government documents and tertiary institutions literature to examine in what context and justification for the the policy. How have institutions applied the policy, and what are the consequences for academia and Japanese society?