Born in Nagoya, Japan. Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, M.A. in International Relations from Sophia University. Her research interest includes social sustainability, construction of environmental issues, intergenerational relations, and gender and environment.
She is currently involved in, among others, comparative research on climate change policy. The project is concerned with the cross-national comparisons of the institutions, ideas, and interests that result in different national policy responses to global climate change.
She has written extensively on intersections between and among family, education, and the labor market. She is the author of Child Rearing War Front (Chobunsha 1991), chapters in Women's Working Lives in East Asia (Stanford University Press 2001), Political Economy of Japan's Low Fertility (Stanford University Press, 2006), Working and Mothering: Images, Ideologies, and Identities (NIAS Press,2007). Her recent book, Invisible Hands and Invisible Heart (Sophia University Press 2015) discusses the structural undervaluation of unpaid care work vis-à-vis paid activities.
She also co-authored Families, Family Policies, and Sustainable Development Goals (UNICEF Forthcoming), a policy tool that evaluates family policies around the world across the six SDGs.

What students can learn from taking Professor Hirao’s courses

Students will gain a basic understanding of the social construction of environmental issues and how they are related to our daily lives. Students are strongly encouraged to be critical in assessing how we regard nature as such. Students will also be able to analyze the interdependence among ecosystems, economic systems, and social systems. They will learn the research skills necessary for the completion of the M.A. program. The skills include asking good research questions, formalizing research topic, synthesizing existing knowledge, and academic writing. I emphasize creativity and academic rigor in every class I teach.

Research Seminar in Brief

My Research Seminar focuses on the social aspects of environmental issues that deal with the interactions between societies and their environments. Based on the needs of students, we will discuss the social aspect of the natural environment or the human-built environment. The teaching method employed in my seminar is synergy learning, through which students collectively learn the foundation of carrying on research. One such example is the Active Book Dialogue, a workshop-style reading method that provides a deeper understanding of the content through collective summary and presentation.