Robinson, Tseday, Department of Biology, Bucknell University, 701 Moore Ave, Lewisburg , PA, 17837, firstname.lastname@example.org; Horsely; Luna, email@example.com; Ware, Ibrahim, firstname.lastname@example.org; Takahashi, Mizuki, Department of Biology, Bucknell University, 701 Moore Ave, Lewisburg, PA,17837, email@example.com.
The Global Gender Gap Index Report evaluates countries based on four attributes; economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political involvement. The higher the ranking on each section shows the smaller gender gap of the country in that category. Japan ranked 116th out of 146 countries in 2022 and placed 125th out of 146 countries in 2023, ranking down nine places. While Japan has greater gender gaps in economic participation and political empowerment, there are little smaller gaps in the educational attachment and health and survival category. However, at a glance, OECD Education reports that only 27.6% of women are attending a Bachelor’s degree in Science, Computing, and Mathematics, suggesting gender biases within educational fields. Our lab at Bucknell studies conservation of amphibians, and conservation biology is one of the male-dominant fields in Japan. Thus, the aim of this project was to investigate possible factors contributing to the gender gap in the field of wildlife conservation and environmental studies in Japan. We hypothesized that (1) Japanese society and surrounding communities would negatively impact young Japanese women’s decision to pursue wildlife conservation as a university major and (2) Japanese women working in the field would perceive more significant challenges associated with their gender than men. To test these hypotheses, we traveled to Japan to collect data during the summer of 2023. We interviewed five women working in wildlife conservation and environmental studies, asking them specific questions about how they got to these positions and the struggles they may have faced along the way. We also visited middle and high schools in Japan and conducted surveys to investigate possible factors contributing to the gender gap in their interests and perceptions about the field among young Japanese people. Our preliminary results tend to reject our hypotheses. Four out of the five interview respondents felt that men were facing greater challenges working in the field and with the society in general. For example, one stated that it is more difficult for men to take days off for family-related purposes (e.g., child care) because “Men are expected to bring money to take care of the family.” Another woman stated that it’s actually harder to do field work as local people tend to be more suspicious about strange men. Our data also shows that students, especially women students, feel supported by their society, teachers and families to go into their area of interests. Our data overall suggest that Japanese women do not perceive societal and systemic challenging preventing them from pursuing the careers in the field of wildlife conservation and environmental studies. A memorable comment that one of the students stated was that they “don’t think it is a good idea to get too close to western gender consciousness.” Our results overall suggest that the gender gap in Japan is caused by active choices of women (and men) and those women who made a choice to work in the field are thriving.
Women in STEM, Gender gap