Hiromi Yokoyama / Kavli IPMU / Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies / The University of Tokyo
Hiromi Yokoyama is a professor at the University of Tokyo. She is an expert in Science and Technology Studies (STS). She has proposed "Group Voice" for scientific advice in times of crisis, proposed a "budget community" in addition to a journal community as a boundary hypothesis for separating science from the other, and statistically clarified the impact of "social climate" on STEM gender issues. Recently, she has been working on the visualization of ethical issues in advanced technologies such as AI.
She studied particle experimental physics until her doctorate using the Super-Kamiokande. Her interdisciplinary research using this background has produced results that are useful to modern society. She is also the Director of the Public Relations Office of the University of Tokyo (2021-), Director of the Japan Society for the Social Studies of Science and Technology (2019-), Director of the International Olympic Association 2023 (2021-) and so on.
SECOM Science and Technology Promotion Foundation Specific Area ELSI Area
Research period: January 2020-Representative: Hiromi Yokoyama
In the social implementation of cutting-edge science and technology, it is necessary to tackle the issue at the point of contact with society called ELSI (ethical, legal, and social issues). This project is mainly an attempt to score the ELSI of AI.
Abstract:The social climate for women studying STEM subjects is changing, but the proportion of women taking STEM subjects in Japan is small. Only 27.9% of university students in the department of science is women in 2019. In this study, we used an online survey to investigate whether randomly providing three types of gender equality information increased the motivation of junior high school students to choose STEM subjects and the motivation of their parents to support that choice. Information on STEM, especially about social equality, and information on math stereotypes and STEM occupations, increased students’ motivations for studying STEM. This suggests that providing gender equality information is an effective way to change students’ attitudes toward STEM.
Abstract:Women are underrepresented in physics. Because of the structure of the Japanese educational system, more women must choose physics as a subject for university entrance exams to increase the number of women studying advanced physics at university. In this study, we investigated the factors influencing girls’ choice of physics for university entrance examination in Japan, focusing on preference and self-efficacy for science subjects. We investigated two Japanese populations (members of the public who graduated from university with a degree in science, and professional physicists) to identify characteristics of physicists. We conducted online retrospective questionnaires. First, we found that the preference for physics at junior high school and the first year of high school were positively related to the choice of physics for university entrance exams in both female and male university science graduates. Second, we found that preferences for museums and science magazines as well as the recognition of the importance of physics and mathematics at elementary or junior high school were significantly related to the choice of physics for female university science graduates. Third, we found that professional physicists, especially women, had a lower mathematical stereotype than male and female university science graduates. Our results suggest that initiatives to prevent girls from disliking physics at junior high school or high school may be important for encouraging them to choose physics for university entrance examination in Japan.
Abstract:Women are a minority in science, technology, engineering and mathematics academic careers. In particular, few women in Japan choose to study physics and mathematics. In this study, we investigated the factors contributing to the masculine image of physics and mathematics based on the framework of our expanded model. We conducted online questionnaire surveys in Japan and England, and found that physics and mathematics occupations, and mathematical stereotypes were both related to a masculine image. Only in Japan were social factors, such as a person’s attitude to intellectual women, related to viewing mathematics as ‘masculine’. However, the experience of being told or having heard that the choice of a particular course of studies would make someone less attractive to the opposite sex was evident only in England. This finding suggests that social factors affect the masculine image of physics and mathematics, and that this could vary depending on the country.
Abstract:This article is about manga-based messaging for risk communication on COVID-19, describing the practice of collaboration between a group of experts and a popular manga artist. Collaborative storytelling through popular manga provides an effective discussion platform for diverse experts in various specialties, ages, and genders to discuss a topic in a short time. These “stories” can integrate social meaning, legitimacy, and a local context into scientific messages. They also provide the public with a deeper understanding of the messages through the characters and their “real-life” situations, as long as the messages remain consistent with the worldview of the original work.
Abstract:U.S. and other publics perceive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields as masculine and scientist as a male occupation, but Japanese public perception remains unstudied. Using an online survey, we identified keywords associated with physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, information science, biology, and mathematics. A second online survey showed that the Japanese public perceived both keywords and fields as masculine. This trend was stronger in individuals with less egalitarian attitudes towards gender roles. We suggest that attitude towards gender roles contributes to the masculine image of science in Japan.
Abstract:Many studies have examined the impression that the general public has of science and how this can prevent girls from choosing science fields. Using an online questionnaire, we investigated whether the public perception of several academic fields was gender-biased in Japan. First, we found the gender-bias gap in public perceptions was largest in nursing and mechanical engineering. Second, people who have a low level of egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles perceived that nursing was suitable for women. Third, people who have a low level of egalitarian attitudes perceived that many STEM fields are suitable for men. This suggests that gender-biased perceptions toward academic fields can still be found in Japan.
Abstract:Women are still in the minority in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields in many countries, including Japan. Parental gender role attitudes are a potential influence on whether high school girls choose STEM fields and which fields they choose. However, this has not yet been closely examined in the Japanese context. We used an online questionnaire to investigate whether parental agreement regarding girls’ choice of STEM fields was affected by stereotypical parental gender role attitudes. We found that Japanese parents with egalitarian gender role attitudes generally agreed with girls’ freedom to choose their field of study (not just limited to STEM fields). Parents that agreed thought that girls could find employment across all fields. However, parents that disagreed expressed a variety of reasons, including negative perceptions of STEM fields such as lack of employment opportunities (biology, mathematics, physics and information science) and unsuitability for women (engineering). These results suggest that improving such field-specific negative perceptions may contribute to increase parental support for girls’ choice of STEM fields.
Abstract:Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, many discussions have arisen over “one voice”, the concept that, in emergency situations, researchers should present a consensus of their opinions Consensus building among researchers”, however, is not always easy when a highly urgent matter arises, especially if it involves a scientific field of high uncertainty How can scientist s convey useful information to the public as quickly as possible? Th e author proposes a “group voice” that overcome s the difficulty of building “one voice”
Abstract:“Science crowdfunding” is a research funding system in which members of the public make small financial contributions towards a research project via the Internet. We compared the more common research process involving public research funding with science crowdfunding. In the former, academic-peer communities review the research carried out whereas the Crowd Community, an aggregation of backers, carries out this function in the latter. In this paper, we propose that science crowdfunding can be successfully used to generate “crowd-supported science” by means of this Crowd Community.
Abstract:In 2011, Japan received a massive blow from the Tohoku Earthquake and the ensuing disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Generation Plant (hereafter, the Fukushima Nuclear Plant), with 18,000 people dead or missing, and more than 330,000 evacuated long-term. Anxiety among the people of Japan concerning earthquakes and nuclear accidents is higher than ever, but other hazards confront them as well. This research investigated whether the Japanese people’s anxiety about a variety of other hazards has increased or decreased since the Tohoku Earthquake. Based on the availability heuristic, the contrast effect, and the finite-pool-of-worry hypothesis, it was predicted that public anxiety about earthquakes and nuclear accidents would increase, but anxiety about other hazards would decrease. Data from two nationwide surveys conducted in January 2008 and January 2012 were compared to see the change in societal levels of anxiety toward 51 types of hazards. The results showed that anxiety had increased after the Tohoku Earthquake for only one hazard other than earthquakes and nuclear accidents. For 29 other hazards, the anxiety levels had significantly decreased; and for the remaining 19 hazards, there was no significant change. These results support the prediction, indicating that post-disaster, the overall anxiety levels of the Japanese people tended to decline. Practical implications were discussed with a focus on problems that might be caused by the changes in anxiety level.
Abstract:How does the public assess an appropriate financial allocation to science promotion? This article empirically examined the subadditivity effect in the judgment of budgetary allocation. Results of the first experiment showed that the ratio of the national budget allocated for science promotion by participants increased when science was decomposed into more specific categories compared to when it was presented as “science promotion” alone. Consistent with these findings, results of the second experiment showed that the allotment ratio to science promotion decreased when the number of other expenditure items increased. Meanwhile, the third experiment revealed that in the case of a budgetary cutback, the total amount taken from science promotion greatly increased when science was decomposed into subcategories. The subadditivity effect and increase in the total allotment ratio by unpacking science promotion was confirmed by these three experiments not only on budgetary allocation but also on budgetary cutback.
Abstract:The explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant highlighted serious social concerns about risk communications; the public found it difficult to take preventive actions based on scientific information of radioactive fallout. We investigated public perception of the risks from low dose radiation and the role of information providers through the Internet survey focusing on parents in four Japanese regional groups. Mothers felt more anxious than fathers in Fukushima but not in further groups, and that the furthest group felt the most ambiguous anxiety. Their anxiety derived from distrust of the government and uncertainty about scientific information, rather than the lack of knowledge although risk communication emphasized learning the scientific mechanism. The mediators should provide more information for individual decision-making of day-to-day risk management in regions with different levels of radiological contamination; key issues include improving parents’ perceived control to their lives and easing their tension of responsibility to children’s health.