TOMODACHI Alumni Participate in a Symposium on Promoting Women’s Leadership and Diversity in Science and Energy
On September 30, 2014, eight TOMODACHI program alumni (ages ranging from high school to young professionals) attended Promoting Women’s Leadership and Diversity in Science and Energy held at the United Nations University in Tokyo. The symposium was organized by the United States Department of Energy Japan Office, in partnership with several other U.S. Embassy Offices, including the Economic Section, and Public Affairs.
Prior to the start of the symposium, the TOMODACHI alumni had an opportunity to meet with five out of the seven talented panelists from the United States and Japan, who have various careers and backgrounds related to science in energy. After brief introductions, the TOMODACHI alumni asked the panelists questions about the difficulties of women in science, subconscious bias among women and men in the workforce, and the progress of renewable energy in the U.S. and Japan.
Saya Aoyagi, a TOMODACHI alumni from the TOMODACHI MetLife Women’s Leadership Program stated, “This event gave me the opportunity to meet women leaders in person, and to reconsider the importance of women in a society, especially those playing the role of a leader. The words of the panelists-all women leaders in varying fields-were very influential. This event enabled me to picture myself becoming a leader in the future, and made me determined to pursue my interests to become a women leader myself.”
The Symposium consisted of two parts. First, during the morning session, panelists shared their views on promoting women’s leadership in science and energy based on their careers and personal experiences. The panelists included Lesley A. Field, Deputy Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, the White House; Carol Kessler, Chair, Nonproliferation & National Security Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Margot Carrington, Minister-Counselor, Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Japan; Yumiko Jouzuka, Director General of Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs; Naoko Yamazaki, Former JAXA Astraonaut; Yoshie Komuro, CEO, Work Life Balance Co., Ltd; Akiko Ryu Innes-Taylor, Senior Operating Officer, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Two hundred twenty participants consisting of government officials, corporate executives, university students and several high school students attended, and the session was moderated by the National Science Foundation representative of the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy delivered opening remarks at the Symposium, stating that “many hard problems facing our world today need creative ideas from policy makers, engineers, and scientists: clean energy to power our homes and our economy, new medicines to fight disease and ease suffering, and better farming methods to end world hunger. If we want to reach our goals in these areas, we need the best energies and skills of women and men, working together.”
Second, in the afternoon session, the Graduate School Japan (counterpart of the Graduate School USA) provided training on leadership, diversity and critical thinking at no cost to an audience diverse in gender and work experience. One TOMODACHI alumnus attended the afternoon training session on leadership, which consisted of 50 people.
The U.S. Embassy partnered with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) and the Graduate School Japan to implement these events.