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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)


Creating new knowledge by realizing gender equality in society

A society with gender equality offers opportunities for equal participation in all fields of society regardless of gender. It also assigns shared responsibility to both men and women. Universities play an important role in achieving a society with equal participation from both men and women. For example, universities must enhance the work-life balance of faculty and staff, support young researches, and produce students who recognize the importance of gender equality in society.
In addition to examining action being taken at Waseda University, we will explore the significance of roles expected of universities.


Gender equality as seen by researchers

Waseda University holds a variety of courses related to gender equality. In this section, six instructors of such courses introduce their classes and research themes.

"Considering Gender"-A course established by the Open Education Center

Considering gender as a personal problem before entering society

Naoko Yuge
Professor, Faculty of Law

"I took this course because I felt that I should understand the concept of gender equality before entering society."-In recent years, this reason for enrollment always appears on student questionnaires. Student awareness towards gender issues is steadily increasing. There is undoubtedly great meaning in the existence of a gender course which exceeds the boundaries of individual undergraduate schools. The instructors for this gender course are all specialists in fields such as literature, law, history and education. During group discussions held by students in the final class, opinions are openly exchanged by students from different majors.

During the first class, particular emphasis is placed on the following two points. First, the concept of gender is not limited to women. It is necessary to focus on the myth and construction of masculinization, as well as to question the very concept of the male-female dichotomy. Second, it is difficult to achieve gender equality without taking a critical view of gender. The promotion of gender equality includes lifestyles at home, and it is necessary to consider both public and private areas. Gender equality does not refer to women sacrificing their households in order to work "like men," nor does it refer to men sacrificing their work in order to participate in housework and child-raising "like women." Instead, gender equality seeks for both men and women to achieve a better work-life balance by reconsidering the way in which they work and live, without being constrained by conventional gender roles.

From this perspective, in addition to offering academic knowledge regarding gender, this course provides students with an understanding of gender as a personal issue before entering society.

"Women, Work & Life Design"-A course established by the Open Education Center

Considering the way in which we work and live

Tetsuya Yaguchi
Professor, Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences

The enhancement and development of educational opportunities for women was proposed as an ideal by the founding fathers of Waseda University. Currently, more than 18,000 female students are enrolled at our university. After graduation, these female students produce almost the same level of success as men in work and further education. Indeed, female graduates of Waseda are leading the movement for gender equality in society. However, there are still instances of female students who feel uncertainty before beginning their job search. Moreover, even after gaining employment, women worry about the challenge of balancing their career and home. Compared to before the enactment of legislation for employment issues of women, it is said that issues have become more complex and less obvious.

Presentation by graduates

As students prepare to select their future career path, this course seeks to create understanding towards modern issues faced by women when searching for and continuing employment. At the same time, the course encourages students to consider their future way of working and living. To achieve these goals, classes are taught by instructors from a variety of fields both inside and outside of our university. Each instructor raises issues from their own unique perspective. Opportunities for interaction are also created by inviting past Waseda graduates to speak at classes. Graduates give messages about selecting a career path, searching for employment and having a professional life.

Moreover, this course is held as part of the MEXT's "Project to Support Career Development by Women" and "Cultivation of a Support Model for Female Researchers," which is a Grant for Promoting Scientific Technology. We seek to provide students with a base for considering their way of working and living after graduation, and then to have them think about what kinds of abilities they should acquire while studying at university.

"Science and Gender"-Joint course between the Open Education Center and 3 departments within the School of Science and Engineering

Learning about female researchers and gender

Uneme Nakamura
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering

This is an omnibus course taught by multiple instructors. Although the course title contains the word "science," student enrolling in the class do not need a major in science and engineering. The course deals with multiple themes including "What is gender? (social/cultural gender bias), domestic/international actions related to gender equality, scientific history and gender, gender and geology, and medicine and gender. Furthermore, female researchers and engineers from outside our university are invited to participate in the class as guests. These guests discuss current conditions at their workplace and their aspirations for the future. Such discussion time is a valuable opportunity for students to learn about workplace conditions at corporations.

My lectures introduce Clara Immerwahr (1870-1915), a German woman who was the first female to acquire a PhD in the field of physics at the University of Breslau (currently Poland) in 1900. Her husband Fritz Haber was a famous chemist who discovered a method for synthesizing ammonia and developed poison gas used in war. In 2007, a dramatic play dealing with the tragic life and death of this married couple ("Immerwahr," written by S. Friedrich) was written in Germany and has since been performed. Clara abandoned her research in order to focus on her role as housewife and mother, but she was distraught and unable to feel happy about the research performed by her husband. From this female researcher who died about 100 years ago, we can still learn many things about "gender and career" and "scientific research and gender."

"Comprehensive Sociological Research (Comparative Gender Study Regarding the Recruitment of Diet Members)"-A course established by the School of Social Sciences

The importance of cultivating congresswomen who are committed to exercising their power

Hiroshi Imamura
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

Even though I do not specialize in gender politics, it has become necessary in recent years to consider issues related to women as part of my political research in Japan and America. One issue is the ratio of congresswomen. Despite a high average ratio of congresswomen in western European countries, the ratio remains low in Japan and America. This discrepancy arises from differences in the form of political parties and in systems used for selecting candidates.

In response, this course was opened and review has been conducted regarding recent conditions in Japan, America, England and western European countries. The course is taught by three instructors, including myself, and focuses on 1) basis for representation by congresswomen in comparison to the population, and 2) the condition of selecting congresswomen in countries such as Japan, America and England. Material also focuses on the relationship between women and politics in each country.

When considering such issues, I came to the realization that the concept of women serving as equal representatives in congress is insufficient by itself. Assuming that the interests of women can only be expressed by congresswomen, who is responsible for integrating the interests of men and conducting comprehensive politics? It is necessary for congresswomen to dispel the position of underdog and minority, placing themselves in a position of responsibility composing and integrating politics. In order to exercise power, it is necessary to be committed to resisting the power of others.

Currently, male politicians appear incapable and are changing one after another. If women are able to show responsibility for government, I believe it will be able to dispel all stereotypes and negative images of congresswomen.

"Gender Studies"-A course established by the School of International Liberal Studies

Clarifying the concept of gender by focusing on ambiguity

Keiko Inafuku=Katsukata
Professor, Faculty of International Liberal Studies

Students in the School of International Liberal Studies come from a variety of countries and social/cultural backgrounds. There is also great diversity in their awareness of gender. There are some students who believe that gender theory will "destroy the backbone of men" and support Confucianist fixed division of gender roles. Other students dream of being housewives or house-husbands and see the demasculinization of men as progress. Furthermore, the problem of severe gender disparity does not always exist in developing countries, dispelling the idea that gender equality is a concept found only in high-level modernized societies.

In order to respond to such diversity, this course traces history from feminism to men's liberation and the queer theory. From a perspective of social constructivism, the course focuses on ambiguity such as the Takarazuka Review and men portraying female roles in kabuki theatre, the composition of modern families, maternity ideology and the romantic love ideology.

Gender is composed socially and culturally, and therefore is a complex concept which is difficult to address. This can be clarified by developing mathematical functions from "experience values" such as historical background, social class and ethnic traits. To begin with, feminism is really plural (feminisms) instead of singular. There are as many different paths to liberation as there are people. Although there are a huge amount of issues which need to be addressed, I hope to verbalize the contradiction of increasing homogenization and disparity in gender, a contradiction which has occurred modern times when awareness of human rights has progressed. In order to do so, I will focus on the ambiguity of the "concurrent system of female superiority and male principle" as found in Ryukyu, Okinawa.

"Gender and Religion"-A course established by the Center for International Education

Understanding towards the history of gender

Paul B. Watt
Professor, Center for International Education

This course examines gender concepts contained within the tradition of several different religions. Specifically, attention is given to the concept of women which has been constructed and justified by religion. Based upon such studies, the course seeks to give students an understanding of elements forming the concept of gender in society. Attention is given to the concept of gender within traditional religion, with particular focus on the founding periods of religions such as Hinduism, early Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Chinese/Japanese Confucianism, and Japanese shamanism/shinto. Featured material includes the Manusmtri, Pali canon of Buddhism, the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Onna Daigaku [women's university] of Confucianism, and shamanism as seen in ancient Japanese history.

The concept of gender within these religions is complex and cannot be considered sufficiently through this course only. However, I hope that students will use the course as a steppingstone, developing more awareness of gender issues and reading further literature on their own. I would be please if students can understand the fundamental economic, social and religious elements which form the concept of gender.

As we seek to realize a gender-equal society, we must use our understanding of gender history as a base for creating a new society. I believe that the ability of religion to contribute to the construction of a new society will be an ongoing issue in the future.

In addition to the course described above, Waseda University offers many other courses related to gender equality.
For further details, please refer to the "Gender Equality Courses" section on the website of the Office for Promotion of Gender Equality.