Brussels, 12 Apr 2005
Universities and public research institutions will have to set quotas for the number of female and non-Japanese researchers at their institutions, the Japanese Ministry for Education, Science and Technology has announced.
This new rule will be included in the Ministry's five-year programme for science and technology for 2006 to 2010, to be released later this year, according to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
Organisations will be allowed to set their own target, but the government will survey the figures and release the results in order to promote the hiring of more female and foreign researchers, states the newspaper.
In March 2003, there were 88,000 female Japanese academics and researchers representing just 11 per cent of the total number of the country's researchers. Although the number of women researchers is increasing, Japan remains at the bottom of the table in that category within the OECD. By contrast, women in Italy and the UK account for 26 and 28 per cent of all researchers respectively.
In Japan, women are most outnumbered in science and technology field, where women only represent 1.1 per cent of researchers. Figures for foreign researchers are also lower than in other countries.
'A quota for minorities is sometimes necessary. Few people in research organisations will publicly oppose it, so the policy will be effective,' stated Professor Fumiko Yonezawa from Keio University, who became the first female president of the Physical Society of Japan in 1996.