March 8, 2024

Global Women’s Breakfast 2024 Event Held at Kyoto University

Co-organizer Meekel asks a question to the invited speakers Yamada and Nakagawa

On February 27, an IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast (GWB) 2024 event was held at Kyoto University for the second year in a row. This year’s event was co-organized by Dr Francesca Pincella, Institute of Chemical Research (ICR), and Dr Emily Meekel (iCeMS). The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) encouraged groups of all types from all over the world to organize events around the theme "Catalyzing Diversity in Science”. Their website states that over 1500 GWB events have been held in 100 countries.

Guest speakers Prof Hiroko Yamada (IRC) and Dr Yuka Nakagawa (IRC) shared their educational, research, and professional backgrounds as Japanese women balancing families and careers. Yamada, who specialized in organic chemistry, shared how she was the first female bachelor student in her lab at Kyoto University and surprising statistics that showed how few females were pursuing studies in STEM in Japan. Both trends have continued, as she was repeatedly the first woman in her division or department at a University, and the numbers of women in STEM in Japan have made little change despite government promises.
Nakagawa also presented statistics, suggesting that gender balance in STEM had more to do with belief structures around competence rather than actual ability.

Despite any gender unbalance, both women had found paths to both raise children and pursue the science that they were passionate about. Nakagawa noted the importance of establishing frameworks and building confidence so that women can imagine themselves in executive positions. Yamada encouraged young Japanese to go abroad and break your stereotypes. Both women emphasized the importance of community and building strong networks.

The event was well attended in person and online. Participants had many questions regarding raising children with working and studies, and also dealing with issues of shame in receiving benefits offered to women. Pincella shared resources to support services for gender equality and families, outreach and networking, and international staff, before opening up the event to allow for networking between participants.