Lessons from the Conference that Will Last a Lifetime
JEさん 高校2年生 17歳
Moments before stepping into the huge hall where the conference would take place I remember wondering what types of stories the speakers would share. What kind of people I was going to meet. The food. Needlessly to say, the whole conference went beyond my expectations. Listening to the speakers on how they persistently chased their dreams inspired me to start getting out of my comfort zone to pursue mine. It made me realize that if these women can make it to where they are today, any women including myself can do it too. I am delighted to say that in just 10 hours, I was able to forge special connections with adults from different industries and other students, as well as take home valuable lessons.
One of the biggest things I learned from the conference was on the secret of boosting the participation of women as well as how to be successful in one’s career, despite working in an environment which can have been disadvantageous for women. Throughout the speeches and roundtable sessions, some pointed out that supporting female participation with social systems, or employers being conscious of increasing the employment of female employees are some solutions to increase women in the workforce. Furthermore, saying yes to any opportunity and being persistent can lead to advances in one's career. Within these discussions, however, what Mrs. Haruno Yoshida said during one of the talk shows struck me hard. She talking about how she could not stop working because, for her, her job was too fun to stop. As a result, despite all the setbacks she faced throughout her career, the love and fun she had towards it had made her persistently work hard. I think this mentality is very important. There can be systems in Japan that creates better working environments for women, and we can learn to grasp every opportunity that comes in our way, but for a woman to be fully determined and willingly reaching out for opportunities, there has to be the element of fun in what she does. Mrs. Yoshida shows from her own experiences that when a woman finds something that is too fun to stop, she will find a way to work while raising a child and learn to deal with factors such as relationships and gender gaps in the workforce that could have hindered her career. Therefore, supporting women and creating an environment where their passions can be supported is just as necessary when trying to increase female participation in different fields.
Another thing I learned was about the connection between gender and diversity. Diversity is a highly sought after concept in our society today, as we see numerous companies, schools and even cities pouring in time and energy to build up a more diverse environment. Mrs. Kaori Sasaki stated that “diversity is only attained when a lot of perspectives come together to create a certain environment.” That being said, one of the easiest ways to gain all this perspective is by involving of people from different parts of the gender spectrum. Yet, we tend to eliminate gender as a way to increase diversity, and instead, many times we are taught that diversity is the mere inclusion of people from various countries, cultures, and religion. This is not enough. I learned that if companies and institutions want to achieve diversity, there must be movements to incorporate people of different genders too.
The conference, overall, was an amazing experience and made me feel even more passionate about gender issues the world faces today. I am now very excited for what is ahead of me after high school, knowing that anyone can make an impact. I sincerely want to thank the sponsors, especially Ms.T.E., for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and feel honored to have had the chance to expand my knowledge on gender, business and leadership.