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Noyori Academy Salon: Women's Empowerment

  • 2017/03/15
  • presented by Institute for Advanced Research

Since January 2013, University Prof. Ryoji Noyori, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2001), has contributed numerous articles to "Kamitsubute" in Chunichi Shimbun. Based on these articles, he regularly conducts academic discussions with students at Nagoya University. At the 25th Noyori Academy Salon, held on March 3, 2017, Prof. Noyori and six students and researchers from different academic fields at Nagoya University and Dailian Maritime University discussed the topic "Women's Empowerment." Prof. Noyori expects that by empowering women, diversification of values among people will lead to a radical qualitative improvement in society.

Encouragement to Pursue Your Interests

Prof. Noyori

Since today (March 3rd) is Girls' Day or Hina-matsuri in Japan, "women's empowerment" is a particularly good topic for discussion. Nowadays, diversification of people is a well-featured issue. In fact, for solving current affairs in society, people from different backgrounds must unite to tackle these together. I believe that society should promote the effective appointment of human resources, especially of young people, women, and foreigners. Today, I specifically intend to discuss women's issues with you.

Ryuko Baba, a third year PhD student at the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences

First, in the "Kamitsubute," what do you mean when you say that young mothers in the US and other developed countries are renouncing motherhood as a social obligation?

Ayako Watanabe, a first year student at the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences

I am a mother of three children. Since I experienced childbirth, I think my thought process has altered to a great extent: I continuously think about my children. I am assuming that this aspect of motherhood is what I may have acquired through experience.

Prof. Noyori

While men and women have been accorded equal intelligence, they may differ in sensibility. For example, special sensibility of women is ordained through motherhood, and it can be assumed to be different from the social sensibility of men. I believe that motherhood is significant in life, including in life sciences; further, society should be restructured for taking advantage of women's instinctive ability.

Yang Zhong-Zhen, a collaborative researcher at the Graduate School of Environmental Studies (a professor at Dailian Maritime University)

Until higher education at university, little difference exists in the number of male and female students. However, a change of trend is observed in their 30s, regarded to be the productive age, because of reasons such as childcare. Thus, it is my opinion that the rules should be revised to ensure fair competition.

Prof. Noyori

Gender segregation may have occurred amid competition or social pressure. The rule to create a good society can be established through collaboration and coexistence, despite unavoidable competition in community.

I think that working styles for women and men are different. In general, women have fewer opportunities for working in their 30s than men because of childcare and other reasons; however, after experiencing childbirth and childcare, women feel more driven to achieve their goals at work. I suggest that the rule should be established after observing one's entire life, which is absolutely necessary for your research work too.

Yusuke Tejima, a junior at the School of Engineering

In research and development, what is it that can specifically be done by women but not by men?

Lian Feng, a collaborative researcher at the Graduate School of Engineering (a professor at Dailian Maritime University)

I am a female professor of mechanical engineering. In China, similar to Japan, there are fewer female students in the engineering department. When I was a student, there were even fewer female students than at present.

Prof. Noyori

It seems that men are at an advantage in engineering or science technology; on the other hand, life science or family and consumer science can be popular among women. I suppose the word "engineering" is a matter of impression, influenced by gender stereotypes. Considering the current scenario about empowerment of women in science and technology, the image of engineering is expected to be changing.

Kai Yonemura, a junior at the School of Science

What is your opinion about gender favoritism?

Prof. Noyori

I disagree with the thought of a "female workforce for GDP growth." Whatsoever be the workforce, the priority is to work as per your wish. I encourage you to pursue interests beyond the current efforts undertaken for joint social participation.

(by Ayako Umemura/NU Research)


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