Increasing the visibility of female researchers at our university.
#8: Tomozo's Story
Q1. Where are you from? Which department are you in?
Chiba prefecture/ Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law
Q2. Why did you choose UTokyo? What was the most attractive point to you? What do you think are the shortcomings of being a student at UTokyo, if there are any?
The most attractive point was that UTokyo is a national university where I could afford to enroll at. The international flavor of this university was also attractive. I sought a university that meets two conditions. One was that it should be a national or public university (My mother told me not to choose a university in other regions or a private university because we couldn’t afford it). The other was that there should be more exchange programs than any other universities. When I was in junior high school, I got interested in working abroad. I am from a single-mother family and didn’t have much money. I had to receive a high-quality education in other countries at the least cost. UTokyo was undoubtedly the most ideal place for me in terms of cost and opportunities since it had many overseas partner universities. I also expected that I would be able to get enough knowledge to work abroad at this prestigious university.
The bad point of being a student at UTokyo could be that I often get stressed out… For me, as an ordinary student, UTokyo is an excessively glittering place. It brings endless surprises to me. I feel like other students live in a totally different world.
Q3. Have you faced any difficulties as an undergraduate student regarding gender issues? How did or do you overcome them? What action is necessary to mitigate the issue?
I have never been bothered by my own gender issue (needless to say, however, I have been annoyed by sexist or offensive remarks to LGBTQ+ many times). My gender identity is vague, and I don’t know if I would love men or women or wouldn’t fall in love with anyone. I could be classified as Questioning. However, I have never faced any serious problems related to it. It might be just because I haven’t revealed what I think of my gender identity to others…
Anyway, I’ve been concerned about my mother’s life as a single mother. My mother got fired when she got pregnant. After she divorced, most companies never employed her because she had two toddlers. When she managed to get a job, she had to start her career as a temp worker. Her diligent work has been highly evaluated, and now she’s been promoted to a regular worker. But still, her income is much less than her male counterparts.
What makes things more intractable is that people who face this kind of problem are so busy making ends meet and exhausted that they don’t dare to call out. Voiceless people are invisible in our society and tend to be ignored. I want to say no to this. That’s why I’ve decided to become a journalist. There are many people who need help but can’t call out. Someone should speak for them.
Q4. Imagine you have a little sister who is about to start a journey at UTokyo. What message or advice you would like to give to her?
Students in UTokyo are fortunate to have many opportunities for the future. I’m confident that you will be satisfied with your path if you keep asking yourself what you want to do in your entire life. However, you will know how hard being a woman in this country is than anyone. Women are surprisingly few in our university. Our relatives say, “You don’t have to study so hard. You are a girl.” Boys in UTokyo say with a laugh, “Our professors are always complaining about gender gaps!” Girls in your class may say, “Circles only for boys… Is it a problem?” When you are out of our campus, people sometimes hate you (these are from my experiences). If you think this is questionable, I recommend you observe your surroundings. Watch boys and girls in our university. Watch men and women in your part-time job and voluntary work. What do they say and do to “Todai-joshi (UTokyo Girls)”? Remember their respect and hatred that you feel. You should hit back when it counts. Even if you can’t, you should contemplate what you can do instead of saying, “damn…you’ll be sorry for this….” This is necessary for us because female UTokyo graduates will face more unreasonable things and will fight against them on the front line.