Joshikai II for Future Scientists: International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering was the second in a series of workshops organised by the NEA to motivate young female students to explore science and engineering careers and suggesting ways to overcome potential barriers.
The two-day event provided around 50 female high‑school and junior high-school students the opportunity to engage with highly accomplished women scientists and engineers (three from Japan, the rest from other NEA member countries) to discuss the benefits of careers in science and technology. The mentors shared their experiences with the students and will help answer questions such as: What challenges do women face in science and engineering fields? How can women ascend to leadership role in these areas? How did the mentors build successful science and engineering careers while pursuing full lives outside of work?
The first NEA International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering acknowledged the need for female role models to inspire and motivate young and aspiring female scientists. The NEA and the JAEA believe that this second workshop provided formative experiences for the participating students and positively impacted their lives and future.
Despite many efforts and progress over the past decades, women remain underrepresented in executive positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Female students tend to do very well in math and science early in their academic careers, but often decide on career paths in other fields, such as humanities, the arts and education. In 2012 only 14% of women entering university for the first time chose to go into science and technology/engineering fields, compared to 39% of men. Although opportunities for women in the science and technology/engineering fields exist, there is still a wide gender gap in the workforces of those fields and women professionals in many parts of the world continue to face difficulties. In fact, there are almost four times as many boys as girls who expect to be employed in engineering and computing in OECD countries.
Many countries are working to close the gender gap and to develop policies to reverse this trend. A prime example is Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzō Abe made enhancing the role of women in the economy a national priority. His government aimed to increase the presence of women working in science and engineering, as well as to develop policies that empower women to progress in their careers.
The NEA encourages its membership to explore ways of attracting, recruiting and retaining women in science and technology, as well as enhancing the conditions and prospects for women and girls at every stage of their education and careers.