Tohoku University Gender Equality Policy

It was in 1913 that Tohoku University became the first university in Japan to admit female students, taking in three women who subsequently became this country’s first women to hold bachelor degrees. This milestone marked the beginning of our proud history of supporting the cultivation of female researchers. In the ensuing years, women across Japan gathered in Sendai, a center of scholarly pursuit, to feed their intellectual appetites at Tohoku University, an institution that produced the largest number of women graduates of any of the pre-WWII imperial universities.
Another epochal milestone took place in 2001, when we became the first Japanese university to establish a committee specifically tasked with promoting gender equality. This was followed in the next year by our proclamation of the Tohoku University Declaration on Promoting Gender Equality. Guided by this declaration, the Tohoku University Committee of Gender Equality has spearheaded a wide range of actions for promoting gender equality across the entire university community, including efforts to improve conditions, change attitudes, and communicate the value of gender equality to stakeholders both on and off campus.
Our commitment toward gender equality in higher learning was also seen in two past initiatives, the 21st Century COE program “Gender and Law Policy Center,” launched in 2003, and “Gender Equality and Multicultural Conviviality in the Age of Globalization,” a Global COE program that was established in 2008 to build on the former’s achievements. Aimed at advancing gender equality and diversity research and education, these two initiatives stand as further examples of how Tohoku University has led the way in the promotion of gender equality in Japanese academia.
Some of our efforts have focused on the natural sciences, such as the Tohoku University Women’s Hurdling Project, created in 2006 to improve gender equality conditions and nurture new generations of women scientists, as well as the Tohoku Leading Women’s Jump Up Project for 2013, which was initiated in 2009 to cultivate future women leaders in science, engineering and agriculture and to promote the employment of female scientists.
As underscored by these examples, Tohoku University has led the nation in promoting gender equality with a holistic approach that combines development of theoretical frameworks and the implementation of concrete actions. The Tohoku University Gender Equality Policy—built upon our legacy of educating women for a century and our founding policy of opening our doors to all in quest of knowledge—comprises the following seven action goals for the next ten years.

August 2013

Providing work-life balance support & improving conditions

We will strive to develop a university community where all members, regardless of age, gender, or background, can balance their work and studies with other demands of their life. This commitment includes efforts to foster attitudes conducive to work-life balancing, enrich on-campus childcare facilities, provide support to family nursing care, make other institutional improvements, and increase awareness of the various forms of support offered.

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Nurturing female leaders

Driven by our desire to advance gender equality in academia, we will actively hire and nurture female researchers, and further strengthen our support/employment programs for helping women to serve as leaders on campus, at academic conferences, and across society as a whole.

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Nurturing the next generation

Seeking to produce new generations of female researchers with strong potential, we will help cultivate a sense of mission in our undergraduate and graduate female students aspiring to become researchers through efforts such as continuing and expanding the Science Angels program. We will also implement measures to provide these women with greater opportunity to gain practical experience.

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Honoring achievements

We will establish the Tohoku University Gender Equality Award to honor people whose achievements in diverse fields have contributed greatly to the advancement of gender equality in academia.

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Facilitating local collaboration

As a university centrally located in the Tohoku region, we will work together with the many universities, government agencies, and other stakeholders in this region to promote gender equality in community development, post-disaster reconstruction, and other local projects.

Promoting internationalization

As befits a university aspiring to be a global leader in research and education, we will promote gender equality in our internationalization efforts as well, including by providing work-life balance support tailored to researchers and students from abroad.

Creating a support organization

We will set up the Tohoku University Center for Gender Equality Promotion and other permanent organizations for ensuring the smooth implementation of the aforementioned gender equality actions, and will establish two new positions, Director (or Executive Vice President) for Gender Equality and Special Advisor to the President on Gender Equality, to oversee these efforts.