At Kyoto University the ratio of male to female students is 3:1 (M-F) out of current enrollment of 22,657 undergraduate and graduate students (as of May 1, 2016). If we look over the ratio of faculty we are also presented with an all too familiar picture. Out of 3,349 faculty enrolled at the university only 393 are female (as of May 1, 2016). This is a sadly familiar pattern which repeats itself all over Japan and part of a broader set of gendered social issues at work in Japanese society. In 2015, CSEAS set up a gender equality promotion committee to address gender related matters within the Center. Concurrently, the committee has also set out to learn more about the state of female researchers and gender equality in Southeast Asia and other surrounding regions by way of inviting researchers engaged in gender issues.
CSEAS has been committed to fostering multidisciplinary research yet at the same time we also recognize that there is an irreducible gendered dimension to the research. Wanting to know more about the state of female scholarship from a Japanese perspective, in this issue we bring together a series of articles by female scholars who conduct research in Asia. Each of them have long been engaged in working in the field of anthropology, ecology and geriatrics.
Sakuma Kyoko, an anthropologist and post-doctoral researcher at CSEAS discusses how to juggle fieldwork and research as a single mother. She engages with the dilemma of what many parent fieldworkers confront on a regular basis: what to do with children. Sakuma tackles an issue that is rarely discussed, fieldwork experiences with our own children. Tazaki Ikuko, a post-doctoral researcher reflects on her 10 years of research with the Karen, a minority group who live in the mountainous areas of Northern Thailand. She candidly talks about amorous advances made toward a female researcher, the division of labor in households and the observations that can be made as an unmarried women researching both males and females. Fujisawa Michiko, visiting associate professor at CSEAS who works in the field of geriatrics, discusses aging, people’s health status changes, and how this change influences their way of life and thinking over the course of their lives. Finally, Shiodrea Satomi, an ecologist discusses about her time working in Indonesia’s tropical forests. She presents her observations of other Indonesian female colleagues in the field and draws comparisons with life work balance opportunities available for Japanese women. We hope this collection of articles will allow for further thinking on the important role of female researchers across the myriad of disciplines that they research in.