The following reflection on 10 years of JAWS programming (written by Julie Dolan and Bahram Rajaee; edited by Andrew Stinson) summarizes the various collaborations that took place from 2000-2010, with particular attention to the ways in which JAWS has served as a mentoring network for early-career women, and also raised the the status of Women and Politics Research in Japan and the US:
In the summer of 2000, with funding support from APSA and the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC), Karen O’Connor hosted the inaugural “Comparative Politics Institute on Women and Politics” at the Women and Politics Institute at American University. The program brought together seven scholars from the United States and five from Japan for a three-day workshop in which participants exchanged research papers on women an politics and developed new ideas for research collaboration.
It became apparent over our time together that the Japanese scholars were seeking guidance from the American scholars on how to legitimize the study of women and politics in Japan and how to overcome barriers facing many female political scientists in Japan.
One of the most important things to come out of the 2000 workshop was the opportunity for mentoring and networking. It became apparent over our time together that the Japanese scholars were seeking guidance from the American scholars on how to legitimize the study of women and politics in Japan and how to overcome barriers facing many female political scientists in Japan. They confided in the Americans that their work was not taken seriously and that the study of women and politics was considered outside of mainstream political science in Japan. As a result, there were very few women studying the subfield and very few encouraged to begin study in the area. In many ways, the experiences of the Japanese women and the barriers they faced resembled experiences faced many years earlier by the senior American scholars (M. Margaret Conway, Karen O’Connor and Marian Palley). As pioneers in the field of Women and Politics in the United States, these scholars not only encouraged and supported others studying women and politics, but also brought much needed legitimacy to the field by publishing first-rate scholarly work at a time when very few individuals examined women’s roles in politics. Drawing from their own experiences, the senior American scholars mentored both the Japanese women and the junior American women at the conference, sharing their strategies for success and giving pointers for how to navigate professional obstacles.
After the initial JAWS meeting in 2000, Dr. Palley worked closely with all of the American and Japanese participants, and with the support of APSA’s Executive Director Rob Hauck, to publish papers from the conference in the June 2001 issue of PS: Political Science and Politics. Dr. Palley then proceeded to arrange a second meeting of JAWS at the 2001 APSA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Twelve women took part in a research panel on “Women in Japan and the US” to continue the discussions that we had started at the 2000 sessions. As a result of the meeting, plans were initiated by the Japanese scholars to invite the American JAWS participants to Japan to maintain their network and speak to a broader audience of women scholars, political activists, and political leaders.
By working closely with the Japanese women to publish their articles in PS, a widely respected journal produced by the American Political Science Association, JAWS greatly legitimized the research of these women and signaled that other Japanese scholars should take them seriously.
By working closely with the Japanese women to publish their articles in PS, a widely respected journal produced by the American Political Science Association, JAWS greatly legitimized the research of these women and signaled that other Japanese scholars should take them seriously. Soon thereafter, our Japanese friends told us that having their articles published in PS opened all sorts of doors for them and greatly facilitated their securing grant funds to host the next round of JAWS in Japan. They have continued to made inroads by securing appointments in the Japanese Political Science Association. Misako Iwamoto was appointed in 2003, and Masako Auichi in 2005, to the Executive Council of the Japanese Political Science Association. Dr. Iwamoto and Tokuko Ogai secured positions on the planning committee of the 2006 International Political Science Association’s World Congress that was held in Fukuoka, Japan.
In 2002, three of the American women (Palley, Conway, and Julie Dolan) traveled to Japan for a third round of JAWS. They spent two days at Mie University in Tsu, and two days at the Institute for Gender Studies at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo. Also while in Tokyo, we met with members of the Japanese Diet as well as members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and spoke to women activists. It was apparent during these sessions that JAWS had helped to legitimize the study of women and politics in Japan and had likewise provided many opportunities for the Japanese scholars to take leadership roles in their field and to network and mentor additional women interested in the study of women and politics.
In 2003, Dr. Palley collaborated with Rob Hauck (and with funding from JUSFC) to bring participants together for another JAWS program at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware then at the APSA meetings in Philadelphia. In addition to the original group of scholars this year’s JAWS cohort included two additional junior American scholars and three additional junior Japanese scholars. Following the workshop, participants’ revised papers were abstracted in the January 2004 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics. Full papers were published on the APSA website in a special E-Symposium.
In 2007, Dr. Dolan partnered with Bahram Rajaee at APSA (and with funding from JUSFC) to organize a JAWS workshop at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, followed by a related panel on women and foreign affairs at the APSA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL. The 2007 workshop brought together 14 Japanese and American political scientists to examine the intersection of gender and foreign policy. It provided a forum for scholars researching politics, foreign policy, and women to discuss and learn from each others’ experiences regarding substantive expertise and related professional development issues.
In 2009, six of the American women traveled to Japan for JAWS events in Tokyo and Toyama Prefecture. The American scholars presented new research about the historic candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, the role of women in third parties in the United States, the use of floor speeches by Congressmen and Congresswomen, and women’s involvement in the public health policy. The Japanese scholars presented new research on gender and voting in contemporary Japan, the political strategies of women legislators in Japanese parliamentary politics, women in local Japanese elections, and the recruitment of women by Japanese political parties to run for office. Participants presented research at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo and at Ochanomizu University, which sponsored an International Symposium on Women’s Participation and Policy Development in Japan and the USA, which drew a crowd of more than 30 scholars and activists. The American women also got to witness a municipal election rally in Professor Ogai’s Tokyo neighborhood and presented their research again before a local Mother’s Union (grassroots political group) in Toyoma Prefecture, which drew a crowd of more than 70.
In 2010, Melissa Deckman partnered with Bahram Rajaee (and with funding from JUSFC) to organize a JAWS workshop at Washington College in Chestertown, MD followed by a related panel at the APSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The 2010 workshop on “Gender, Politics and Policy: Post-Elections” brought together 19 Japanese and American political scientists, which was the largest gathering of JAWS to date and demonstrates the growing interest in this professional network of political scientists.
As this summary demonstrates, the creation and sustenance of JAWS over the last ten years has led to a number of positive outcomes:
- Participants on both the American and Japanese sides have expanded their research portfolios and learned a great deal about the study of Gender and Politics. Learning about one another’s cultures also revealed opportunities for various cross-cultural connections and comparisons, which many participants subsequently incorporated into their research.
- Participants have made lasting connections and friendships. While there are many differences between Japan and the United States, we discovered early on that there was much to share about our own professional experiences as female political scientists studying women and politics in our respective countries.
- JAWS has undeniably improved the status of women and politics scholars in Japan. In 2000, Japanese scholars were searching for ways to legitimize their research and to be taken seriously by their political science colleagues in Japan. By 2010, three of the original Japanese participants have served in prestigious positions in the Japanese Political Science Association and also serve as mentors for other women in the field.