36. Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, Toshiyuki SUGIYAMA Part-2


Conohana-san of the Month June edition (Part 2)


In ‘Conohana-san of the Month’, we discuss the experiences of senior researchers who have successfully managed to balance their research/work with life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.


In the previous interview, we listened to his episodes including how he struggled with bringing up his children.

This time, we will introduce his strong aspirations for supporting female students in the faculty of engineering as the dean of the faculty!


Introduction of Professor Toshiyuki Sugiyama


Specialty: Structural Engineering; Earthquake Engineering; Maintenance Management Engineering (Bridge Engineering)

 Organizations: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Domain of Social System Engineering (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering Science (Division of Engineering), University of Yamanashi


Let me tell you a little about how “the faculty of engineering has small number of female students”.

 The average percentage of female students in the faculty of engineering at Japanese national universities is 11.5%. (2013 MEXT School Basic Survey)

 Here at the University of Yamanashi, it was 13.4% in 2013! A little higher than the national average♪

 This year, in 2014, it decreased a little to 12.5%, barely above the average (^^).

However one to two students in ten are definitely a small number. Of all faculties of the

science course, the faculty of engineering has less female students for no special reason.

A part of this Support Office’s activities is to cheer up such a small number of female students. 

 This year the percentage of female students in the faculty of engineering was 12.5%. The good news is that as many as six female students were enrolled in the department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering! Moreover, ten female students entered the department of Mechatronics! Double digits! How delightful♪


Well, yes (lol). But I feel a little sorry that we tend to react nervously to the male to female ratio, and such numeric value comes to be an issue. What is important for us is to let all students make the most of their student lives. When divided by gender, it is a fact that the female students are a minority, but the study of engineering has nothing to do with gender.


You are right! I think I was swayed by the number (^^;). The figures aren’t the reference index of our work, but the fulfillment of every student is.


I appreciate the activities of this Support Office for Female Researchers. The activities cover the creation of good studying environment for students. For example, if a female student who is hopeful and inspired to study at university becomes uneasy and discouraged just before opening her new textbook, noticing that only few girls are in her class, and feeling herself unapt for the course…isn’t it sad? Once they open a textbook, there is no boundary between genders. So I want this Support Office remove their anxiety, and transmit the message that they shouldn’t be anxious. It is true that a higher number of female students will make them feel easier… I may sound patronizing, am I alright saying this kind of thing?


Of course! (lol) We will do our best to live up to your expectations! The main purpose of our Support Office is to increase female researchers in the faculty of engineering, and that may reduce the anxiety of female students and increase their number as well.


Yes, yes, that’s right. An increase in female researchers has a merit from another perspective. New development and innovation are greatly expected from the research and manufacturing based on the women’s point of view. There will be a lot of possibilities…Well, usually I don’t discuss these things so seriously. Do you mind?


No problem! (lol) By the way, what do you think is the reason that the engineering courses have less female members? I hear that there is a brain science theory that states that the brains are different between men and women, and the male brain has more aptitude for the field of engineering. 


I’ve heard about that. But as we mentioned before, about 13% of students enrolled every year are female students. It is clear that there are definitely women apt for engineering. I hope more of such students are enrolled in this university.


Don’t you think that the children of the parents in the science course tend to go on to a science course? As a matter of fact, I majored mechanical engineering, and my father was from the field of engineering.




When parents are in the science and mathematics course, a casual talk and a daily conversation with them would often include such topics, and it may influence the children’s career options. As for my children, I never intended for them to be in the science course, but the four of them went on to the math and science course. So, why not stage a campaign for parents in the science course to raise their kids to follow their course, to increase female students in our faculty?….Of course, I’m joking (lol). Certainly, it is a basic part of child rearing to encourage the children to explore what they are really interested in, regardless of what course it is in.


(Chuckle) I feel I have caught a glimpse between the true feelings of a parent who experienced child raising, and the worries of the dean of the faculty of engineering. Thank you very much for many intriguing stories (^^)I appreciate your continued support for us!