Anger in Japan over bid by med school to keep women away

Tokyo Medical University manipulated the test scores of female applicants to keep their numbers at about 30 per cent of entering classes, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, citing sources.
Tokyo Medical University manipulated the test scores of female applicants to keep their numbers at about 30 per cent of entering classes, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, citing sources.PHOTO: TOKYO MEDICAL UNIVERSITY/FACEBOOK

TOKYO • The revelation that a top Japanese medical school has been manipulating the test scores of female applicants for years to artificially depress the number of women in the student body has sparked anger and bewilderment among women.

The revelations have highlighted institutional barriers that women in Japan still face as they pursue work in fields that have long been dominated by men.

Tokyo Medical University reduced the test scores of women to keep their numbers at about 30 per cent of entering classes, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, citing sources.

For the 2018 school year, 1,596 men and 1,018 women applied to the school, with 8.8 per cent of men and 2.9 per cent of women accepted.

"This medical school's practice is very shocking and ridiculous," said Dr Takako Tsuda, an anaesthesiologist who is chairman of the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women.

A 38-year-old doctor working at a hospital affiliated with a public university was quoted by the Yomiuri Shimbun as saying: "I feel like the efforts and aspirations of female doctors have been trampled on."

Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi has ordered an investigation into the school's admissions procedures over the past six years.

The discrimination began after 2010, when the number of successful female applicants increased sharply.

School administrators apparently justified the practice out of the belief that women were more likely to drop out of the profession after marriage or childbirth.

TBS, a television network, cited an unnamed former university admissions official as saying the practice was commonplace among medical schools and that administrators did not see anything wrong with it.

A university spokesman declined to comment.

The revelations triggered an outpouring of criticism online about gender inequality in Japan.

"Those who decided this system never faced problems of balancing housework and childcare with a job," Ms Keiko Ota, a lawyer, said on Twitter.

"You got away without doing all that housework and were able to concentrate on just your job thanks to whom? Can you dare say with whom you left your own children?"

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 05, 2018, with the headline 'Anger in Japan over bid by med school to keep women away'. Print Edition | Subscribe