Activity Report

Participation Report for the STEMM Equality Congress 2018

Date: October 11-12, 2018 (Thursday & Friday)
Place: Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Beurs van Berlage)
Miyoko Watanabe - Deputy Executive Director
Satoshi Yokoyama - JST Beijing Representative Office

Meeting Outline

  • The STEMM Equality Congress 2018 was held in Amsterdam. Although the number of participants was not announced this time, in 2017 220 people from 31 countries and 5 continents participated. The meeting location was Berlin, and was of a similar scale to the previous event.
  • Leaders in strategy, policies, and implementation of STEMM diversity were invited from around the world with the intention of offering opportunities for exchange.
  • Deputy Executive Director Watanabe was a speaker on behalf of JST. She introduced JST’s diversity promotion initiatives, and also explained the current situation of diversity promotion in Japan and future prospects at the panel discussion.

  • photo1
    Speech at the opening session
  • photo2
    Gong to mark the start of the session

Speaker Statements

  • The unconscious bias of all people rooted in their culture and social background impedes gender equality.
  • It is necessary to break free from unconscious bias in research and promote equality.
  • There is potential for removing unconscious bias through AI, but because AI is ultimately created by humans, if those people are biased then their bias will be embedded into the AI. It is necessary to keep this point in mind and incorporate the following points into AI. Equality in AI is now our duty and responsibility.

1. Self-control
2. Ethical framework
3. Discipline

  • There is a major difference (20%) in acceptance of LGBT, depending on whether or not there is awareness of who is LGBT.
  • Technology can expand gender equality. There are different impressions of men’s and women’s voices in voice recognition systems. Women should actively get involved with AI development, but the ratio of women is low and women’s viewpoints are not represented much in decision-making.
  • There is a need for training on gender equality for teaching staff to eliminate gender stereotypes. Social bias is reflected in AI. The internet must be fair.
  • Diversity also exists among men in terms of generational differences, cultural differences, etc. We have moved into an age in which it is necessary for men to responsibly tackle initiatives together.
  • Racial barriers exist extensively in terms of socio-economics, and there is barely any improvement to ratios. There is evidence that this is reproduced through education levels (there is a difference among races in terms of access to higher education and bias in hiring and encouragement of staff). There needs to be an approach to prevent reproduction of social poverty for people with low incomes and people far-removed from higher education.
  • It is the duty of federal governments to take action to substantially eliminate discrimination in higher education. (Example: scholarships for public universities, etc.)
  • What is needed in leadership of diversity promotion in higher education is officials who are perceived to be specialists who can manage change. Diversity promotion aims to change the system and organizations cultures.
  • Diversity is a tool for realizing social justice and is a priority for research results.
  • Promoting diversity means changing society. It is a hard struggle for the people concerned, and society is not advancing in the direction it should.
  • On the other hand, several studies have shown that if staff members have diversity awareness and men and women tackle work equally, this increases productivity, and diversity is also beneficial for corporate profits.
  • Equity→ Diversity→ Inclusion. The central matter of interest is a shift from unconscious bias to appropriate diversity (inclusion skills). We have reached a time when diversity is naturally assumed, and there is implementation of various systems for steadily realizing inclusion.
  • Because young female researchers are a minority and face unique issues, this needs to be followed up on. There is a need for more research expenses funding and research promotion organizations.

Outline of the speech by Deputy Executive Director Watanabe

image4Deputy Executive Director Watanabe giving her speech
  • Introduction of Gender Equality 2.0 (meaning acceptance of various forms of diversity encompassing terms like race, culture, and diversity, with the assertion that this is not just an issue of women and girls) at the recent Gender Summit 10 held in Tokyo. In particular, gender equality is a bridge connecting all 17 goals of the SDGs.
  • In Japan, men generally do not like female or young bosses. The higher the age, the more conservative they become.
  • Asian values have traditionally meant that men are the breadwinners and women protect the family. There is low awareness of how to utilize women’s talents in society.
  • For patents, teams with a mix of men and women create higher economic value.
  • Finally, as an example of Asian values, she quoted the Tale of the Heike and explained how everything is changing. Although gender equality is a concept that originated in the west, Asian values mean a different approach and gender equality should include regional values.

Outline of Deputy Executive Director Watanabe’s statements at the panel discussion

image5Photograph of the panel discussion
  • In Japan, decisions are made by elderly men. Similar to the issue of gender equality, generational differences are an important issue.
  • Although it is effective to create standards based on data, data itself can be biased. In order to avoid unconscious bias in decision-making, these tendencies should be understood in advance. Young people are flexible and receptive, so they can more quickly recognize unconscious bias.
  • Funding has become competitive and it has become difficult for many researchers to acquire research funds. This is striking for new research areas in particular. There is also a tendency for research funds to concentrate on authorities. This is a serious issue.