Envisioning Futures

Although the percentage of female researchers in Japan is on a gradual upward trend, it is still low compared to other countries and it sits at 16.9% as of the end of March 2020. The percentage of women in leadership positions is even lower (the Japanese government has also postponed its goal of 30% women in leadership positions to 2030), and for example, the percentage of female professors in national universities in 2019 is 4.6% in faculties of science and 2.9% in faculties of engineering. At RIKEN, one of the largest scientific research institute in Japan, the ratio of female researchers in leadership positions is 8.4%, a far cry from the global standard. It is important for young women researchers to incorporate the wisdom of their predecessors and to support the formation of leadership.

What we do

This project, led by RIKEN, maps the journeys of distinguished Japanese women scientists with a series of oral histories, shedding light on challenges and best practices in a country with a persistently low numbers of women researchers and research leaders.

By doing so and formalizing and disseminating the experience accumulated by female PIs as tacit knowledge, the project aims to accelerate the development of women researchers aiming for leadership positions.

How we deliver

This partnership with RIKEN focuses on interviews with Japanese women principal investigators (PIs). The conversations provide an account of how they acquired leadership and laboratory management skills and how they overcame challenges as PIs. The interviews especially focus on the establishment of management policies through experiential learning and the process of trial and error. These experiences will serve to accelerate the growth of women representation in leadership positions, to support their careers progress, and offer policy makers guidance for positive interventions