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Forget Kevin — we need to talk about Japan. In early December, Sophie Knight, a journalist based in Tokyo, wrote an article for the website Medium titled “Japan has a cute problem: How the pink apron keeps women down.” It was a short piece that I regarded as a way of sparking debate on the issue of women in Japan.

The article referred to Haruko Obokata, the researcher who claimed to have made great strides in the field of genetics, and her depiction in the Japanese press, which paid a great deal of attention to her — particularly how cute she looked in an apron. Knight argues that Obokata was a victim of the prevalent sexism in Japan: “While her fall from grace caused outrage and sadness in the wider scientific world,” Knight writes, “in Japan, it was easy to comprehend: Pretty girls shouldn’t mess with science.”

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