Ability Has No Gender: Keep Pursuing Your Goals
Prof. Akiko Matsuo speaks at the Women’s Networking Event of the 15th World Congress on Computational Mechanics in Yokohama

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The 15th World Congress on Computational Mechanics (WCCM 2022) was held at Pacifico Yokohama over six days starting July 31, 2022. As part of the conference, Professor Akiko Matsuo of the Department of Mechanical Engineering was a panelist for the online “Women’s Networking Event,” held online on August 3. Reflecting on her unique journey, Prof. Matsuo shared her insights on shaping a career as a researcher to the many early-career female researchers in attendance.

The event was organized by the Female Researchers Chapter of the International Association for Computational Mechanics (IACM-FRC), which provides a wide range of support for early-career female researchers aiming to achieve gender balance in computational mechanics. The event began with several welcome messages, including one from Dr. Rekha Rao, chair of the IACM-FRC, and after a report on chapter activities, Prof. Matsuo was invited to speak on the panel.

Prof. Matsuo studied mathematics as an undergraduate student but decided to pursue her childhood dream of aeronautical engineering in graduate school. She embarked on an unconventional career, navigating a transition from the private sector to academia in her early thirties. During the panel discussion, Prof. Matsuo provided key insights on shaping a successful career as a researcher, citing milestones and pivotal decisions throughout her life. She repeatedly emphasized that in research “ability has no gender” and told participants, “If there’s something you’re unable to do, it just means that there’s something else you have to do first. Don’t hesitate. Keep moving forward.” She also encouraged them by saying, “Despite the fact that I didn’t study much when I was younger, today I’m doing the research I love. Even if things don’t go as planned at first, as long as you follow your passion, you are sure to find success in a career in research.”

During the Q&A session, Professor Matsuo candidly shared personal anecdotes from her life, including her admission of being a workaholic, which resonated with many of those in attendance.

After the panel discussion, the Best Presentation Award was presented, bringing to a close the two-hour event that connected female researchers from around the world.