SWU Summer Program–Day9

2013.7.30—Tuesday morning opened with a lecture from Showa’s own President Bando on “Japanese Women”

Her talk began with an account of her life and how she got to where she is today. After yesterday’s lecture on gender roles in Japan, students were far more able to appreciate the obstacles President Bando faced as she pursued a career in government at a time when women were by and large limited to being teachers and office ladies.

After discussing her own story, including how she used her position as a bureaucrat to direct attention towards gender inequality, President Bando discussed the history of Japanese women, starting from the semi-matriarchal societies of pre-Heian Japan and charting the gradual decline to the rigid and oppressive gender roles of the Tokugawa period. In discussing the position of women in society today, President Bando highlighted how centuries-old ways of thinking, such as Confucianism, still play an important part in how women are perceived. Then students shared their opinion on women roles, and how they differ from their home countries.

In the afternoon, students were joined by several Showa alumnae. These guests ranged from housewives to career women. Breaking into groups, students interviewed the women about their careers, families, and other topics. Students said that they greatly appreciated the fact that these women took days off from work in order to come talk to them. They were also impressed by the strength and determination of the women they talked to.