Plan to drop goals for women roils Japanese science

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Science  10 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6244, pp. 127-128
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6244.127

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Japan's female scientists have been making agonizingly slow progress in academia. Only 22.5% of all full-time faculty positions at the nation's universities were held by women in 2014, a rate far below that in other advanced countries. And the percentage is even lower at Japan's major research universities. To increase the participation of women in the academic workforce, the government has set numerical targets for recruiting for academic positions in two successive 5-year basic plans for science and technology adopted since 2006. However, targets were dropped from the draft of the next 5-year plan. The omission has sparked a debate over what is holding women back and the most effective way to boost their participation in academia. A number of advocates for women are calling for targets to be included in the final version of the plan, which will be completed by the end of this year and take effect next April.