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Japan: a woman's place is at the university - gender inequalities in Japanese universities.


Future social leaders and intellectuals are bred in higher educational institutions worldwide (HEIs). However, evidence shows that there are still issues with gender equality's impact on unequal access to HE in many countries. For instance, in Japan, gender inequalities persist in Japanese universities. Few studies discuss the representation of women at various academic levels and the sufficiency of career support in Japanese schools and universities. 

Historically in Japan, girls had significant disadvantages in terms of educational prospects, particularly in the formative years of the modern educational system. The attendance of the girls in primary school was very low and opportunities for accessing secondary school were very limited. Thus, women were not even expected to pursue HE. For many years, the Japanese government has created policies and initiatives to encourage girls' and young women’s education. Women’s educational opportunities have gradually improved in basic education. However, this problem persists in HE. 

The Gender Gap Index (GGI) rank of Japan has been below 100 throughout the past eight years, according to the World Economic Forum’s global rankings on gender equality (2020). Women make up just 16.7% of the academic faculty in national universities. Japan lags behind the European Union (EU) and other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations in terms of gender equality. According to fact sheet, no.55 of the UNESCO Institute for Statitcs (2019), female researcher engagement in Japan is among the lowest in Asia and the Pacific. As reported by the Summar of Results (2019) of Research and Development by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, there are presently 874 800 researchers working in academia and industry, with 16.6% (155 000) of them being women.

The improvements in gender representation in Japanese academia are very slow because the housewife is still meaningful status for Japanese women or at least an expected role. Because of that, in various university faculties and departments, such as those for education, literature, nursing, pharmacy, and home science, there is an uneven distribution of female students. However, more and more female students today are choosing to major in science and engineering. 

In 2022, the government has set about supporting female students who wish to pursue science and engineering at university and is encouraging reforms at universities to accept these students.  It considers women's entry into these professions essential for addressing the labor shortage in fields like digital technology that are experiencing expansion.  











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