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- PublicationMission Completed? Changing Visibility of Women's Colleges in England and Japan and Their Roles in Promoting Gender Equality in ScienceThe global community, from UNESCO to NGOs, is committed to promoting the status of women in science, engineering and technology, despite long-held prejudices and the lack of role models. Previously, when equality was not firmly established as a key issue on international or national agendas, women’s colleges played a great role in mentoring female scientists. However, now that a concerted effort has been made by governments, the academic community and the private sector to give women equal opportunities, the raison d’être of women’s universities seems to have become lost. This paper argues otherwise, by demonstrating that women’s universities in Japan became beneficiaries of government initiatives since the early 2000s to reverse the low ratio of women in scientific research. The paper underscores the importance of the reputation of women’s universities embedded in their institutional foundations, by explaining how female scientific communities take shape in different national contexts. England, as a primary example of a neoliberal welfare regime, with its strong emphasis on equality and diversity, promoted its gender equality policy under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry. By contrast, with a strong emphasis on family values and the male-breadwinner model, the Japanese government carefully treated the goal of supporting female scientists from the perspective of the equal participation of both men and women rather than that of equality. Following this trend, rather contradictorily, women’s universities, with their tradition of fostering a ‘good wife, wise mother image, began to be highlighted as potential gender-free institutions that provided role models and mentoring female scientists. By drawing on the cases of England and Japan, this paper demonstrates how the idea of equality can be framed differently, according to wider institutional contexts, and how this idea impacts on gender policies.
756Scopus© Citations 11
- PublicationPaving the way and passing the torch: mentors' motivation and experience of supporting women in optical engineeringThe phenomenon of women's underrepresentation in engineering is well known. However, the slow progress in achieving better gender equality here compared with other domains has accentuated the 'numbers' issue, while the quality aspects have been largely ignored. This study aims to shed light on both these aspects via the lens of mentors, who are at the coalface of guiding female engineers through their education and subsequent careers. Based on data collected from 25 mentors (8 men and 17 women from 8 countries), the paper explores their experiences of being mentors, as well as their views on recommended actions for nurturing female engineers. The findings reveal that the primary motivation for becoming a mentor was personal for men and women. Many mentors from countries with relatively lower female labour participation rates perceive their roles as guarantors of their mentees' successful future career paths, and a similar trend can be found in mentors in academia. The study underscores the need for invigorating mentors’ roles in order to secure a more equitable future for engineering education.
376Scopus© Citations 5