History of UT Women

Hiroko Kageyama and the Shirokane dormitory

Last updated: 19 March 2022

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After the first female undergraduates entered the university in 1946, their number slowly increased, reaching 100 in 1964 and 200 in 1980. It would take 40 years for female students to exceed 10% of total enrolment.


In the late 1940s and 50s, both male and female students were suffering from financial difficulties. Many had to work part-time to make ends meet and pay for their studies. In addition to post-war malnutrition, the rigours of student life led to a number of female students falling ill with pulmonary tuberculosis.


It was Hiroko Kageyama who raised awareness of the severe situation and turned the establishment of a women's dormitory into a reality. Kageyama, an undergraduate who herself was from outside the Kanto region (Komoro City, Nagano), submitted a 9-page letter to the then Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Tadao Yanaihara, in 1951, explaining the difficulties faced by women students who had come from the countryside and were not financially able to pursue their studies alone in Tokyo. She also appealed for the construction of a women's dormitory, as a safe place for ambitious female students to live. By contrast, men’s dormitories, such as the student-run Komaba dormitory built in 1935 and incorporated into UTokyo in 1950, had already existed for some time.

 

In September 1953, two years after her letter, Shirokane dormitory was opened in Shirokane, Minato-ku, and 14 female students took up residence. This was followed by another dormitory in April 1966 to accommodate the increasing number of female students.


When female graduates numbered into the dozens, Kageyama and others started a movement to create an alumni association for women graduates of the University of Tokyo. In June 1961, "Satsuki-kai" was born.


After graduating from the University of Tokyo with a degree in economics, Kageyama studied labour economics and women's issues while working for NTT. Kageyama was an early advocate for equal employment opportunities for both men and women, and she worked tirelessly to improve the status of women in the workplace.

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