CITEC Researcher Speaks at Girls Day Hosted by Tokyo City University in Japan

Young academics discuss reconciling an academic career and family life

As different as the German and Japanese systems of education and research may be, they do have one thing much in common: In both countries, one finds few women working in research and science. Indeed, approximately the same number of students in both countries earns an undergraduate degree, but after the doctoral level, the proportion of women in these fields drops steadily and substantially from each career stage to the next. 

Friederike Eyssel speaks to 30 japanese participants. Photo: DFG JapanTo help encourage girls to pursue academic careers in research and teaching in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Tokyo City University held a Girls Day event on 6 August 2015. Junior Professor Dr. Friederike Eyssel, from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University, and Myra Bauersachs, from the Office of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Japan spoke about their experiences in science and research. Approximately 30 secondary students, university students, and researchers were in attendance.

Together with the organisers of the event, participants discussed how to plan one’s own life in order to be able to balance having both an academic career and raising a family. They also discussed the general conditions and support women and men need to accomplish this.

Each year in Germany, companies, educational institutions, and research institutes hold Girls Day events for young female students. Such events are also held in Japan at universities and research institutions. Because both countries are highly industrialized nations, they depend upon well-educated skilled workers, researchers, and developers, particularly in the STEM fields. Japan and Germany are thus focusing on encouraging more girls and women to pursue an education or apprenticeship for a career in a technical field, which is also helping these countries deal with the demographic changes taking place in their societies by expanding the pool of highly skilled workers.

Friederike Eyssel emphasized to the participants just how important international networking is in building a successful academic career. This message resonated with the audience, as Japanese academics are working hard to make their students and young researchers more open and motivated to spend time abroad. At the head of the CITEC research group “Gender, Emotion, and Cognitive Interaction Technology,” Friederike Eyssel herself frequently works abroad. Her cooperative relationship over many years with Osaka University regularly brings her to Japan to conduct research. She is currently a visiting professor at New York University in Abu Dhabi.