WMC News & Features

Japanese medical school cuts women’s test scores to disqualify entrance

Tokyo Medical And Dental University News 8 6 18
Tokyo Medical University has has been manipulating exam results in order to guarantee that women compose only about 30 percent of incoming classes.

A Japanese medical school has been lowering the scores of women taking its entrance exam to ensure that a greater proportion of men are admitted, Japanese media revealed on August 2. 

The discrimination began in 2010, when the number of successful female applicants to Tokyo Medical University increased significantly, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun. Since then, the school has been manipulating exam results in order to guarantee that women compose only about 30 percent of incoming classes. About 9 percent of men and 3 percent of women were accepted for the 2018 school year.

“This medical school’s practice is very shocking and ridiculous,” said Takako Tsuda, an anesthesiologist and chairwoman of the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women, in an interview with The New York Times. “This practice should be stopped now.”

An unnamed source cited by The Yomiuri Shimbun said that school administrators defended the score-fixing on the basis that women were more likely to give up practicing medicine after marriage or childbirth. The alterations were uncovered during an internal investigation into corruption allegations at the university.

Some doctors had long suspected that women were being prevented from pursuing careers in the field. “The medical community’s development was dominated by men and lacks the views of women,” wrote anesthesiologist Fumi Tsutsui in a July article. “The majority of patients are women, and the medical community needs to increase diversity by nurturing female medical professionals.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has held the post since 2006, has long positioned himself as a supporter of women’s economic equality. Despite promises from Abe to increase women's participation in the workforce, however, Japan continues to lag behind other developed countries—a problem that has been attributed to hiring practices and the long hours often expected of employees.

His efforts to bring more women into the workforce—referred to in shorthand as “womenomics”—have had some positive results. The number of female employees in the Japanese workforce has increased since Abe has come into office, and Japan is employing a higher proportion of women over 25 than the United States, according to 2016 data.

Critics, though, say that while there may be more women working, it is still men who dominate the political and business spheres. There were seven women in the prime minister’s 2014 cabinet, but in his current cabinet he’s seated only two women. Under Abe’s leadership, Japan passed legislation setting targets for larger companies to increase female representation in management, but the law did not establish any penalties for failing to comply.

Abe has come under scrutiny from feminists and anti-imperialists for his avidly pro-nationalist stance, and was described in the New York-based quarterly Jacobin as “a racist, patriarchal dream.” In January, he refused to apologize to the South Korean “comfort women” abducted and raped by the occupying Japanese military force before and during World War II. His government has insisted there is no evidence the women were taken forcefully. Abe has also demanded that South Korea and other countries remove statues of these women in an obvious attempt to delete history.

More articles by Category: Health, International
More articles by Tag:



Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.