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History of UT Women

Policy towards gender equality in the 1970-2000s

Last updated: 19 March 2022


The World Conference of the International Women's Year was held in 1975, and spurred active debate on women's issues in various parts of the world. Around this time, the women's liberation and university reform movements combined to create the discipline 'Women's Studies' in the US, introduced to Japan as 'josei-gaku'.


The first course in Japan was established by Teruko Inoue, a graduate of UTokyo’s Faculty of Letters, who was teaching at Wako University at that time. Women's Studies criticised the male-centric nature of traditional academic study, viewing it as biased towards men both as its subjects and bearers, and called for its reconstruction to include women's perspectives and experiences. Prof. Inoue also introduced the concept of "gender" to describe socially-created gender differences. This became a theoretical pillar of the movement against gender discrimination by helping to elucidate the social structures oppressing women.

Combined with entrance exam reform in 1987, this background led to an increase in the number of female students entering UTokyo, and 40 years after it had started accepting female students, women finally reached 10% of newly admitted students.
This was accompanied by wider changes in the law. In 1985, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was enacted thanks to Diet member Mayumi Moriyama, one of the first female students of UTokyo, as well as Yoshiko Akamatsu, Hisako Takahashi, and many other female UTokyo graduates-turned-bureaucrats. In 1999, the Basic Act for a Gender-Equal Society was enacted to create a society where men and women could "exercise their individuality and abilities regardless of their gender".

UTokyo, as a national institution, was also required to take concrete steps towards gender equality, hence the Office for Gender Equality was established in 2006, and since 2007 childcare facilities have been provided on campus. From around this time, gender education open to both humanities and science students has also been provided, such as the "Gender Studies" course by Prof. Kaku Sechiyama.

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