Satoko Shinohara, President of Japan Women’s University
Founder of Japan Women’s University, Jinzo Naruse, believed a university, as part of its mission, would not only provide women with an education; but also contributed to society as a whole. Japan Women’s University has produced many researchers, educators and graduates who have played influential roles in business and society. However, still now, it is not easy for women to build their desired careers in Japanese society. Research Institute for Women and Careers was established to help women build fulfilling careers. And this institute plays a major role in Japan Women’s University realizing Jinzo Naruse’s mission.
Machiko Osawa, Director of Research Institute for Women and Careers
RIWAC was established in 2008 in order to conduct research on women’s career development and provide policy proposals to the public. Women’s careers are different from men and are much more influenced by life-cycle events such as giving birth or taking care of elderly parents. More women are now entering university and working, but many are having trouble landing a full-time job. In addition, once women quit their job, it is increasingly difficult to return to the labor market the longer the duration of their career hiatus. The aim of our institute is to develop programs tailored for women interested in a ‘second chance’. Our mission is to help mothers resume working and to provide assistance to women that facilitates their return to the labor force and enables them to enjoy life long careers. In order to enhance public awareness of this issue and realize our goals, we are organizing various symposium and public lectures, collaborating with governments and other educational institutions and reaching out to our alumni network. Through those activities we are hoping to nurture a society that provides more opportunities and chances for women to develop their careers while raising families.
Goals of RIWAC
The institute exists to study and research the challenges surrounding modern women and their careers so as to apply the tradition and ideals of women’s education represented by Japan Women’s University to a changing modern society. It also aims to communicate research outcomes not only in education at JWC but also within society as a whole, thus serving to facilitate a society in which women can achieve their full potential.
The word ‘career’ is often used narrowly as a synonym for occupational history. At this institute, however, we would like to define it broadly as ‘a way of life’. While women’s ‘way of life’ is an independent process of selection, it is also restricted by a range of social conditions. Modern society has various expectations of women’s roles. Women themselves are increasingly going on to higher education, and are becoming more active in social activities. At the same time, the realities of women having to quit their jobs due to the harshness of their workplace and the severe difficulties they face in trying to rejoin the workforce afterwards have not diminished. Marriage too is in the course of dynamic transformation, and in addition to the responsibilities of raising children, women face the issues of divorce or living as a single person.
This institute provides opportunities to research and develop new approaches to a range of issues concerning modern women’s ‘way of living’, to exchange the results of research projects both within and outside the university, to educate young researchers, as well as to communicate our research outcomes to society as a whole. The institute also aims to gather information regarding women and their careers and conduct exchanges with other research institutes. Finally, our research should provide core data for the education of women provided at Japan Women’s University.