The primary participants in the workshop were 55 female high school students, accompanied by 16 teachers from various cities in Japan. The event provided the students with a rare opportunity to interact with seven highly accomplished female mentors to talk about their future careers in science and engineering.
During the two-day workshop, the mentors exchanged their real‑life experiences and shared valuable advice and insight with the students. Discussions addressed the difficulties faced by women professionals in many parts of the world and the steps that can be taken to support young women who aspire to become science and technology professionals.
Opening remarks were provided at a joint opening session for the QST symposium and the mentoring workshop by Toshiei Mizuochi, State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); Toshio Hirano, QST President; Aiko Shimajiri, Special Advisor to the Minister, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan; and Claudie Haigneré, Senior Advisor to the Director‑General, European Space Agency (ESA), who co‑chaired the workshop with Shizuko Kakinuma, Director of the Department of Radiation Effects Research (NIRS, QST) and Unit Leader of the QST Diversity Management Unit.
The joint opening session also featured a special video address to the students by Hélène Langevin‑Joliot, distinguished nuclear physicist and granddaughter of Marie Curie.
Participating mentors included leading female researchers from Japan and from four other countries, as well as one young mentor. Participants acknowledged the need for female role models to inspire and motivate young and aspiring female scientists. The discussions also highlighted questions about how to achieve a work-life balance and the potential benefits of studying at overseas universities.
"We hope that this workshop will show these students that successful models do exist for women to be science and technology professionals while maintaining satisfying family lives," NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV, said at the joint closing session. "If they all go forward to accomplish their dreams, Japan will be a stronger country for it and the world will be a better place. We have a great deal of hope for them."