The first basic principle of Nara Women’s University (NWU) is “To cultivate human resources that will lead to a gender-equal society. Towards the university that disseminates information for the empowerment of women”. The Gender Equality Promotion Office was established in November 2005 to realize this principle and to advance towards gender equality in the society, as stipulated by the national government, through coordination and cooperation in all aspects of education, research, and administration,.
In 2006, NWU was selected as one of the organizations to implement the special program, called “Program to Support Research Activities of Female Researchers” supported by the Special Coordination Fund for Promoting Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Its purpose was to establish model programs for research environment where female researchers receive social, academic, and financial support to make contributions in their respective fields. This program was carried out by the Gender Equality Promotion Office under the title, “Development of Life-Long Mutual Support System for Female Researchers” and resulted in a wide-variety of activities pertaining to the improvement of research environment for women. This MEXT funded program ended in March 2009. However, the significance of such NWU’s effort has been widely acknowledged, and the program has been continuing with NWU’s own funding since April 2009.
In 2010, NWU was selected as one of the organizations to implement the MEXT’s initiative for establishing systems to accelerate female researchers’ growth. This MEXT’s special program was called “Supporting Positive Activities for Female Researchers”. By then, the increase in female representations in hiring and other decision-making processes and in the level of gender equality awareness had made a significant impact at NWU. Even though this MEXT’s program was a five-year initiative, NWU was determined to continue to further advance its effort to increase female researchers in science and technology fields. To this end, the Gender Equality Promotion Office was reorganized as an independent entity with three headquarters: the Office of Gender Equality Promotion; Office of Mutual-Assistance and Support for Women Researchers; and Office of Reform Promotion in the Training System for Women Researchers.
In May 2011, NWU formulated its basic policy to further advance its effort to realize gender equality. NWU was chosen to be one of the institutions to implement the MEXT’s special human resource development program for science and technology, called “Program to Promote Postdoctoral Internship”. Through this program, NWU aimed to help its graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to have not only specialized academic expertise, but also understanding of a wide range of issues, including global matters, required to respond to the needs of the “real world”, such as business and industry, and to ensure the diversity of their career paths. To accomplish these goals, NWU established the fourth headquarter in the organization (Gender Equality Promotion Office), “Office of Career Development for Post-doctoral Fellows and Graduate Students” in October 2011.
In responses to the organizational changes laid out above, the Gender Equality Promotion Office was renamed as the Organization for the Promotion of Gender Equality, while maintaining the quadripartite structure, and its rules were established in December 2012. Furthermore, the “Steering Committee of the Organization for the Promotion of Gender Equality” was founded, and the organizational regulations were made. The Steering Committee consists of a committee chair, a vice-committee chair, and committee members who develop annual plans, implement activities to raise gender equality awareness of faculty and staff, conduct surveys on gender equality promotion and support provided for women at other research institutions, monitor progress in gender equality awareness on campus, and evaluate the effectiveness of educational, research, and other types of support needed for the cultivation of women’s abilities at NWU.
As activities related to the third mid-term goal/plan commenced in 2016, the Organization for the Promotion of Gender Equality integrated the “Office of Mutual-assistance and Support for Women Researchers” and “Office of Reform Promotion in the Training System for Women Researchers” to become the “Office of Diversity in Research Environment” to better support female researchers. As a result, the Organization for the Promotion of Gender Equality became a tripartite organization – the “Office of Gender Equality Awareness” , “Office of Diversity in Research Environment”, and “Office of Career Development for Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Students” in April 2016. This integration and expansion of the program reflected the following:
– – In the post-program evaluation for the program “The Center Created by Tradition and Reform to Cultivate Women Researchers in the Next Generation” (executed in 2010-2014) in 2015, NWU received “A” mark for overall as well as on every aspect of the program.
– -The continuation of the above program with NWU funds has resulted in making significant impacts.
– -The work so far has indicated that we can expect further impacts by integrating its activities into those of the “Office of Mutual-Assistance and Support for Women Researchers” in order to augment the program and administrative support.
With your assistance and support, the Organization for the Promotion of Gender Equality will continue to tackle a variety of issues and problems, and propose viable and effective solutions for them.