In order to be able to understand current gender and diversity-related societal challenges, it is necessary that the research has a global perspective and uses cross-cultural approaches. This project has contributed to this through a long-term and good collaboration between the Center for Gender Research, NTNU, Norway and the Institute for Gender Studies at Ochanomizu University, Japan. Gender equality and inclusion have been highlighted as explicit political goals in both Norway and Japan. At the same time, national politics, cultural characteristics and economic conditions have meant that policies relating to gender and diversity have differed both in form and content in the two countries. In the Norwegian context, gender equality has become a norm that pervades welfare policy, which is particularly evident in family policy. Japan, on the other hand, has more limited experience with political regulation related to gender equality and cultural diversity, and combining working life with family life for women has been a challenge that has only been given attention in recent years. In both countries, the political and cultural ideal of gender equality has also become more complex as a result of increased international migration.In light of the different cultural, social and structural contexts that Norway and Japan represent, this comparative project has asked the following questions: How does the political ideal of gender equality relate to other forms of difference, such as social class, ethnicity/race, sexuality and age within and between the two national contexts? To what extent and in what ways can we envisage and/or problematize the "export" of the Norwegian dual equality model to national contexts with other political systems and cultures?
The questions are explored and through close collaboration both on research and education, and involve mutual exchange of both academic staff and students. The research is carried out in a number of selected fields and includes popular culture, the home, school curricula, fertility and assisted reproductive technology, parenting and academia, and the most central research deliverable is the co-published anthology Comparative Perspectives on Gender Equality in Japan and Norway. same but different? (Routledge 2022, print and open access), edited by Masako Ishii-Kuntz, Guro Korsnes Kristensen and Priscilla Ringrose. The anthology is actively used as curriculum literature at both collaborating institutions. Each of the various empirical investigations shows both similarities and differences between the two national contexts when it comes to understanding and organizing gender and thus also the conditions for gender equality. As the project explores the possibilities of "exporting the double equality model we have in Norway", it is particularly important to identify key differences between the two countries. And what the project has pointed out here is the advanced welfare state with the comprehensive family policy, which is very important in Norway, and which has no parallel in Japan. Another key difference that the various studies included in this project have uncovered is that gender equality has a very different status in Norway and Japan. While gender equality in Norway is taken for granted as an important goal and ideal with which it is almost impossible to disagree, it has a much less obvious position in Japan and the possibility of it not being prioritized is much greater. At the same time, we see that in Japan there is also a change in the direction of increased focus on gender equality, and in that context, international rankings and attention to the topic have been of great importance.
The project has financed shorter mobility stays for a number of students and researchers from both partners. From NTNU, 8 master's students, 1 PhD student and 1 researcher completed mobility stays at Ochanomizu University and 5 researchers shorter stays for seminar and network participation. From Ochanomizu University, 2 master's students and 2 PhD students have been on mobility stays, in addition to a total of 6 people visiting for seminars and workshops.
The project has led to a new collaborative project between the same partners funded by HK dir's UTFORSK program Teaching Gender Equality and Diversity in Norway and Japan (2021-2025) and a post doc project funded by JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) : Gender Diverse Experiences of Belonging in Japan (france rose hartline).
Anticipated outcomes and impacts from the grant application form:
The specific goals of this long-term collaboration were:
1) The generation of high-quality comparative research carried out in two markedly different national contexts, leading to the development of new research areas and curricular innovation.
2) Short-term mobility actions to strengthen the collaboration (reciprocal research/educational stays, seminars (1 on teaching, 1 on joint proposal writing), workshops (yearly, connected to the development of the anthology).
3) A wide range of scholarly and mainstream dissemination activities: publication of an anthology, 1 policy-level seminar in collaboration with the Norwegian Embassy, Innovation Norway’s Tokyo Office and stakeholders in Japan, joint participation in an international conference, and public events.
4) The submission of new research funding applications to ensure the sustainability of the partnership.
5) The organization of a jointly taught summer institute (Japan) and new Ph.D. course (Norway) allowing for the further development of students’ theoretical knowledge and global perspectives
Actual and potential outcomes and impacts based on project results:
1) The NJ_BREGED project has generated high-quality comparative research in both Japan and Norway, mostly co-authored across national borders, leading to the development of new research areas and curricular innovation.
2) A number of shorter mobility stays and visits that have strengthened the collaboration (both students and staff)
3) A wide range of scholarly and mainstream dissemination activities including 1 co-edited anthology and 1 journal article (plus one in review), an online policy seminar and several research and teaching seminars and workshops
4) Three successful grant application: UTFORSK (HK-dir), a post doc fellowship (JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) and a COIL pilot project (HK-dir)
The NJ_BREGED project aims at strengthening the pre-existing yet nascent collaboration between the Center for Gender Studies-NTNU and Institute for Gender Studies–Ochanomizu University. Both partners have active research agendas built around gender equality and diversity, similar educational offerings (B.A., M.A. and Ph.D Gender Studies programs), and the desire to expand joint research and teaching efforts.
For the Centre for Gender Studies at NTNU, this cooperation would serve to a) reinforce the comparative dimension of its teaching and research at all levels by implicating graduate students in world-class research on gender, b) open multiple avenues for collaboration and dissemination, and c) allow research groups and students to develop an international network. For the IGS in Japan, the collaboration would connect with current research and policy efforts to reduce gender disparities.
Beyond this, NJ_BREGED has a visionary aim–the promotion of a more gender equal and diverse society through the close association of education, research and policy.
As most of NJ_BREGED’s core participants are institutionally, scientifically and pedagogically anchored in the project’s key aims, efforts to integrate the research findings into courses at the B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. levels will be facilitated.
The following overarching questions are addressed in the NJ_BREGED project:
To what extent and in which ways can we envisage and/or problematize the export of the Norwegian dual earner/dual career model of gender equality to a national context with differing political systems and culture?
How does the political ideal of gender equality relate to other axes of difference, such as social class, ethnicity/race, sexuality and age within and across both national contexts?