Mariko Bando teaches a way of life that is not bound by assumptions.


Proposal from Mariko Bando Let go of assumptions/unconscious bias and live freely (Part 1)

Prejudiced beliefs that the person does not realize because they are unaware of it



In February 2021, with the Tokyo Olympics just around the corner, a comment made by a former prime minister and the chairman of the organizing committee for the games became a hot topic as a ``problematic statement.''


"Meetings with a lot of women in them take a long time."


Although a press conference was held the next day to withdraw the proposal, foreign media also reported on it in a harsh tone. The English expression used at that time was "unconscious bias."


Mariko Bando, president of Showa Women's University, explains the term "unconscious bias," which is unfamiliar to Japanese people, by replacing it with the word "belief." She has worked on women's issues in Japan for many years as a government official, and has also served overseas as a researcher at Harvard University and as Consul General of Japan to Australia.

``I was aware of the term ``unconscious bias,'' but I didn't have a clear idea of ​​what it actually meant. It was a very easy-to-understand example of real-life prejudice.Moreover, the person who made the statement later said, ``If I tell the truth, I'll get scolded,'' and it seems that he doesn't understand what the problem was. I didn't say anything bad about women or intend to discriminate against women, I just said the obvious facts.I didn't realize that I was biased."

Without realizing that their prejudices are hurting others or making them uncomfortable, they think, ``The world has become noisy these days...'' and think of themselves as victims who are being exploited for words, and don't think about it any further.



“When I took this opportunity to reflect on my life so far and the environment surrounding me, I realized that there are people all over the world who think the same way.Not only men, but also women. Sometimes we impose our own values ​​on others, or we narrow down our options for the future by thinking, ``Because I'm a woman.''

Mariko Bando Mariko Bando

In the office of Showa Women's University. The office is decorated with tulips, heralding the arrival of spring, creating a peaceful atmosphere.

Unknowingly, you can make those around you suffer.
An assumption that everyone has.


Ms. Bando has been active as a career-track employee in a government agency since before the Equal Employment Opportunity Act came into effect. They were the first generation to break away from the common assumption in Japan at the time that it was natural for women to join the family at a certain age. On the other hand, he recalls that there were parts of his own upbringing that were tied to traditional values.



``I have two daughters, and to be honest, as a parent, there have been times when I have been forced to give them advice in the safe direction.``If girls are edgy and express their opinions, society will backlash them.'' It would be difficult for her to survive.If she really had the ability, she would be able to survive without being discouraged by the noise, but if she didn't, she would just have a hard time...', that's what I think about my daughter.

The troublesome thing about assumptions is that you tend to think it's good for the other person and impose biased values ​​out of love and kindness. He doesn't mean any harm at all, and is just trying to kindly pass on the knowledge he has cultivated throughout his life that says, ``If you do this, you won't have to suffer.'' However, what is correct for me may not necessarily work for others. Common sense changes with the times.



``During the Showa era, it was common for male full-time employees to work until retirement, and for women to quit their jobs and become dependents on their husbands when they had children.It was a time when the economy was on the rise. As a result, full-time male employees were able to earn higher wages and support their wives and children.But now, it is common for husbands and wives to work together and share household chores. Even at the affiliated nursery school, about 6% of children are dropped off in the morning by fathers, which was more than 7% during the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be difficult if we remain stuck in old beliefs. Masu"

Mariko Bando Mariko Bando

At the time of the interview, it was a warm afternoon when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. While he was busy preparing to welcome new students, he showed me around the school's garden. The bright and comfortable atmosphere reflects the school spirit.

An assumption that always exists.
Don't limit your future possibilities


Times are definitely changing. Showa Women's University, where Ms. Bando serves as president, boasts an actual employment rate of 94.5%. The students have a strong desire to continue working even after starting a family, and are said to show a strong interest in corporate welfare and work-life balance measures.



``Compared to our generation, where it was common for women to quit their jobs after a few years, I think the mindset of Japanese women and the environment surrounding them have changed considerably.



But now I have my current ``beliefs.'' Caught up in the trendy concept of work-life balance, I decided to look for a job with the first priority being that the working conditions would not be harsh, such as ``I want to work for a company that allows me to take childcare leave,'' and ``I want a job that allows me to balance my family life.'' There is a tendency to In reality, I don't have a partner and I don't have any children... In a sense, because of their belief that they want work balance, they are missing out on opportunities to enjoy the fun of responsible work, the challenge, and the career advancement that can be achieved through hard work.''



Beliefs that everyone has, young and old. How to let go of assumptions and live freely? Mr. Bando's proposal continues.

Mariko Bando


Born in Toyama Prefecture. After he graduated from the University of Tokyo, he entered the Prime Minister's Office. He is in charge of the Youth Affairs Headquarters, Women's Affairs Office, Elderly Affairs Office, etc. She is energetically working on community development, starting with gender equality. She subsequently served as Deputy Governor of Saitama Prefecture, Consul General in Brisbane, and the first Director-General of the Cabinet Office's Gender Equality Bureau. Her 2006 book, Women's Dignity, became a bestseller with over 300 million copies sold. She served as Vice President of Showa Women's University in 2005, President in 2007, Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2014, and has been President of Showa Women's University since 2016.

A book about how to live without being bound by assumptions A book about how to live without being bound by assumptions

“A way of life that is not bound by assumptions” by Mariko Bando, published by Poplar Publishing
``For some reason, relationships don't go well,'' or ``I said something that I thought would be good for the other person, but ended up making the other person angry.'' These are problems that can happen to anyone. The main focus of this book is that many of these causes are due to ``cognitive distortions and biases caused by unconscious beliefs (unconscious biases).'' Showa Women's University, where the author serves as president, also actively carries out educational activities. In the future's diverse society, we need to be aware of this ``preconceptions'' and understand others correctly. A book that provides hints to help you understand "unconscious bias" and make your life easier.

Text by Junko Morita
Photography by Toshiyuki Furuya

In addition to informing you of the latest information via newsletter, we also plan to inform you of exclusive events and give away special gifts.




Proposal from Mariko Bando A new way of life where you come into contact with different values ​​and are freed from your assumptions...

scroll top