The Admission of Women : Time Travel – Tohoku University

In August 1913, Tohoku University permitted the admission of women. Women were accepted into an Imperial University for the first time in Japan. How did they enter Tohoku University?

At the beginning of 1913, Tohoku University informed all the schools about its policy of opening its doors to women. After receiving that news, some women decided to take the entrance exam, following the recommendations of their teachers. Ms. Ume Tange, Ms. Chika Kuroda and Ms. Raku Makita passed these tests and entered the College of Science along with thirty-five male students. Before that, they were teaching in Girl’s High Schools. In other words, they all held a teaching license which, was a qualification to enter this university.

However, their admission was not smooth. During the exam, there was an inquiry from the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education recognized it as an extremely major affair that has not happened before that is, they opposed the admission of women. However, Tohoku University had already decided to admit women. Tohoku University thought that they simply applied expanding entrance qualifications to women so as to get more students. This decision was not based on progressive thinking.

After their graduation, Ms. Chika Kuroda and Ms. Raku Makita became professors at their old school, Tokyo Women’s Teacher Training School. Ms. Ume Tange also became a professor at Japan Women’s University. They later fostered female researchers. In the long run, the admission of women to an Imperial University was a ground-breaking event, not only for opening doors to women but even for the history of the university.

Columnist Manabu NAKAGAWA is an Associate professor at IEHE, Tohoku University

Chemistry Division 2nd Graduation Ceremony (1915)  Ms. Kuroda is in the 2nd row.

: Collection of Tohoku University Archives 

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