12 February 2019

Women and Girls in Science Podcast Series: Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki

According to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, 16 per cent of women globally, compared to 37 per cent of men, graduate with a degree in a STEM field of study (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  This exclusion of women and girls has important implications not only for scientific research, innovation and development, but also for women’s economic participation and inclusion.  A 2017 report estimates that 85 per cent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet, many jobs that exist today will be lost to automation and most jobs of the future will require some facility in STEM-related subjects. If women are to be included in the employment and economic future of tomorrow, they must be included in STEM fields today. 

To promote the empowerment of women and girls in STEM and raise awareness about the need for gender inclusion in science and technology, in 2015 the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

United Nations Academic Impact sees STEM education as an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the participation of women and girls as vital to the success of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  In this series commemorating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, UNAI speaks to women scientists, researchers, engineers and tech innovators to find out how they are contributing to their fields and their advice for young women who want to forge a path in the male-dominated world of STEM. 

The second interview in our series is with astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. 

Yamazaki earned a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Tokyo in 1996, before going on to work for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In 1999, she was selected as an astronaut candidate, was qualified as a Soyuz-TMA Flight Engineer in 2004, and as a NASA Mission Specialist in 2006. 

In 2010 Yamazaki served aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery for an assembly and resupply mission to the International Space Station. 

Yamazaki retired from JAXA in 2011 and currently serves as a member of the Japan Space Policy Committee, an adviser to the Young Astronaut Club (YAC), Chairman of “Sorajo (Women in Aerospace)” of the Japan Rocket Society, and a co-founder of Space Port Japan Association, activities through which she encourages young people to pursue STEM careers.

Listen to our interview with Naoko Yamazaki, in which she talks about her career path, her role models and her advice to young women and girls who want to pursue STEM careers.

The following resources provide more information on initiatives for women and girls who aspire to work in STEM fields: