This is a special edition.
On Saturday, February 14, 2015, an event titled “Let’s Talk About the Future of Science Girls” took place at “Pure Sogo,” the Yamanashi Prefecture Gender Equality Promotion Center. This edition gives you a report of that event.
This was actually the second time the event took place since last year.
Female students who place their studies in the field of science, or “science girls” as we like to call them, are still very few in number. The ratio of female students is especially low in the engineering field. Why is that? Could it be that there aren’t enough opportunities to learn about the fascination and enjoyable aspects of science? …This thought lead us to sponsor an event where we can talk to female highschool/junior highschool students about what exactly it is like to pursue one’s study in the field of science.
University of Yamanashi is the only university in the prefecture that has a Faculty of Engineering. Therefore, we thought “who else can present the wonder of science?!” and felt it our responsibility to make a positive appeal about the field of science (although, of course, no one actually asked us to, ha ha ha). We were able to plan and hold this event with the cooperation of Pure Sogo, the Yamanashi Prefecture Gender Equality Promotion Office.
The report on last year’s event can be found here →http://www.conohana.yamanashi.ac.jp/h24-h26/news/920
Now, this year’s event centered around a key lecture titled ““Choosing the Field of Science with a Positive Attitude ～ Will Your Future Path Expand with Infinite Possibilities?!～” by associate professor Ms. Yamashita from the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences (University of Yamanashi). Actual university students also gave a presentation regarding their studies in the field of life science, civil engineering, and mechanical systems/electrical engineering. It was then followed by casual group discussions and the participants enjoyed a bit of a “girls’ talk”, sharing their favorite subjects and interests in future study fields♪
Since it was our second time holding this event, we had high hopes for more participants. However, we made a bad choice of planning an event meant for highschool and/or junior highschool girls where female university students talk about their studies on February 14, Valentine’s Day! Talk about a big mistake!! We can only apologize for that (with a bitter smile). But in spite of it all, we were still lucky to have 8 participants and 4 parents, who chose to come to this intellectual event instead of asking a boy out and going on a date. Although the number of participants did not increase from last year, we were highly grateful that the event proceeded with a friendly and cozy atmosphere.
To a junior highschool student, the “field of science” or the “study of science” does not go beyond the realm of the school curriculum. Therefore, it is probably difficult to narrow down your choice to a specific field, or to imagine what it’s like to actually have the science-related job you long aspired for. At the same time, you might be put under pressure to choose your future path when you make a choice of which highschool you wish to pursue. Day after day of studying for entrance exams and taking trial exams might leave you overwhelmed. Many of you might not have the capacity to actually sit down and think thoroughly about your future and consider what it is you really want to do. So we think that perhaps this is the best time for you to learn about the many options you actually have, when considering your future studies.
In her key lecture, Ms. Yamashita mentioned that “a university is not a vocational school so you shouldn’t be choosing your department and faculty on the basis of your choice of occupation. You should instead, choose them from intuition: what it is you like, what you find enjoyable. What is it that you really want to study?”
Aside from the Faculty of Medicine, where you earn a medical license upon graduation that would lead directly to a specific occupation (being a doctor), fields such as natural science, agriculture, engineering, and physical science do not have a direct connection to a specific job.
For instance, thinking that you have to pursue a field in chemistry or biochemistry because you want to work for a cosmetics company is not exactly true. This is because not everyone who works for a cosmetics company graduated with a degree in chemistry or biochemistry.
Generally speaking, in a company, there are many divisions such as management, accounting, human resources, general affairs, public relations, business, sales, manufacturing, and distribution. Expert knowledge is required in each of these departments, whether it be that in the field of liberal arts or in the field of science. So, which department actually requires expertise in chemistry or biochemistry in a cosmetics company? It would probably be limited to the “manufacturing” division, including sections such as research and development, valuation, and production management. Ms. Yamashita emphasized that the students should know that there are various people working for various divisions in a company, and just because you “want to work for a cosmetics company”, does not necessarily mean that you need expert knowledge in science.。
She also mentioned that in the Faculty of Engineering, students are trained to derive a conclusion by theorizing and analyzing the given situation. Such skill will help you in any situation or in any other field of study. She noted that “that in itself is one of the reasons why we recommend pursuing a field in science!”
Ms. Yamashita is a member of “Rikejo” (Science Girls), a support service provided by Kodansha for women who study or work in the field of science, and also a provider of advice for questions given in this community. She introduced many examples of women who earned a degree in various departments of science and who are now working actively in companies and research facilities. She also talked shortly about the difference between the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering. It seemed a bit difficult for junior highschool students to understand but one of the mothers gave us a feedback saying “I had no idea there was a difference between the two. I just vaguely thought that both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering were simply in the realm of “science”!” The specific details of each faculty and their difference might have been something that most people hardly think about here since there is no Faculty of Science in Yamanashi.
Another thing Ms. Yamashita pointed out was that “in the field of science, English is a must.” She advised the students to work positively on English during their junior highschool years. She mentioned “Don’t let English be your weakness.”
Yes, yes. She is exactly right. We actually hear many students in our university say that they decided to pursue the field of science because they didn’t do so well in their English studies. But in reality, by the time they become 3rd year students, we see many of them with English books and dictionaries, lamenting over the fact that they can no longer avoid studying English. In order to study and pursue a science field you find “fun to study,” English is in fact a necessary skill. We’re not saying you need to be an expert in English. But to consider English to be your weakness, even in your highschool years, and to push it away so early in your academic life would be so much of a waste!
Since the article is becoming unexpectedly long, we would like to continue on with the second half of the article in our next edition. Please stay tuned for more girls’ talk between the junior highschool and university girls!
And last but not least, we would like to thank the staff of Pure Sogo, who made an enormous effort to spread the public announcement for this event and also for preparing plenty of snacks and candies for the participants!