A Japanese government agency has announced the first winners of a new award that was set up to boost the number of woman researchers in the country.
The Japan Science and Technology Agency, or JST, held an awards ceremony in Tokyo on Sunday. JST President Michinari Hamaguchi handed out certificates to the winners of the Brilliant Female Researchers Award.
The new award was set up as women currently account for just 16.2 percent of Japanese researchers -- the lowest-level among industrialized nations.
One winner is Miki Ebisuya, the group leader of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Barcelona.
JST says she is one of the top researchers in synthetic developmental biology. She has reconstituted cell autonomous differentiation and cellular pattern formation artificially.
The other winner is Kyoto University Professor Aiko Fukazawa. JST says she has done outstanding work on the development of organic functional materials. It cited her contribution in the commercialization of a dye that survives repeated STED laser irradiation.
Kyushu University was honored for its support of female researchers. JST says the university introduced its original employment system for faculty members in 2009 and set up female posts.
It says the university has verified the success of its female focused recruitment system by analyzing the performance of the papers of female researchers.
Ebisuya said she hopes that a variety of research styles will be respected and it will become common for female researchers to play an active role in their fields.