Women's Student Record in Higher Education in Japan

Women's Student Record in Higher Education in Japan

Country  Japan
Repository  Tohoku University Archives, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan 980-8577
Section  Other Documentary Heritage that Contributes to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
Gender Dimension  Records on gender equality issues; Achievements of women in history
GEM  GEM 2 – Gender Responsive
Description  In 1913 Tohuku University became the first co-educational university in Japan that admits male and female students. The University accepted four women applicants for the entrance examinations at a time when only male high school graduates could apply for admission. Three of these applicants were accepted as students at the university.

The documentary heritage includes the referral from the Ministry of Education to Tohoku University regarding women's entrance examinations, a 1913 book with teaching documents, letters to and from the first three women university students and a document announcing their acceptance to attend Tohuku University.

At the end of the Meiji era (around 1910), Japanese universities were reserved for male students who had graduated from the old high school system. It was unrealistic for women to gain admission as bona fide university students. However, Tohoku Imperial University, which had been established in 1907, broke with tradition and welcomed women into its classes. On its initiative, the university allowed four women to take the entrance examinations. The Ministry of Education sent a letter to the university demanding an explanation for allowing women to sit the entrance examinations.

On August 21, 1913 there was an announcement in the Tohuku University Official Gazette that according to its “Open Door” policy, Chika Kuroda, Raku Makita, and Ume Tange had been accepted as students. The three eventually graduated and became the first women in Japan to receive a bachelor’s degree. They then several years at the university as research assistants and graduate students.

Chika Kuroda and Ume Tange received their doctoral degrees in science and agriculture respectively. Chika Koruda went on to study at Oxford University and in 1929 she became the second women to be awarded a Doctor of Science degree in Japan. Ume Tange studied in the United States and later received a doctorate in agriculture. Raku Makita served on the faculty of her previous school and when she married resigned to support her husband. In 1999, Tohoku University established the Chika Kuroda Prize to recognize outstanding accomplishments for graduate students in science.
Reference  - Nagata, H. (2014). ‘Exhibition: The birth of women student—Challenge at a hundred years ago’. Tohoku University Archives proceedings, 9,103-126. Available at https://tohoku.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=pages_view_main&active_action=repository_view_main_item_detail&item_id=52070&item_no=1&page_id=33&block_id=38

- http://tumug.tohoku.ac.jp/en/about/history/rekishi/

- Photo credit: © Tohoku University Archives