In Brief

Japanese medical school ‘rigged entrance test scores to keep out women’

University official says lowering all female applicants’ marks was ‘necessary evil’

A medical school in Japan is under fire for allegedly lowering all female applicants’ exam scores in order to reduce the number of women doctors.

The exam rigging is reported to have been going on since 2010, when the percentage of female candidates admitted to Tokyo Medical University (TMU) began to increase above the 30% ratio desired by university officials, according to The Japan Times.

University authorities apparently feared that having too many female doctors could lead to staffing shortages at affiliated hospitals, as women are seen as “more likely to take leave or quit to give birth or raise children”, says Asian Review.

An unnamed TMU official told Japanese media that the practice had been a “necessary evil” and that it was done with “quiet consent”.

In this year’s entrance exam, only 30 women were accepted, compared with 141 men, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports.

The revelations have sparked widespread anger.

“Deliberately lowering the number of women who pass the exam runs counter to the times,” said Kyoko Tanebe, a board member at the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women. “Women’s viewpoints are needed to achieve work reform for female doctors.”

Fellow board member Ruriko Tsushima said that such discrimination against “people who studied hard to get into the university” was unforgivable. “It shouldn’t happen in a democratic country that is supposed to provide equal educational opportunities,” she added.

Universities in Japan are allowed to set a gender ratio as long as they make such quotas public when taking in new students, according to the country’s education ministry.

The Tokyo medical school is already under investigation over claims that authorities “inflated the test scores of the son of an education ministry bureaucrat in order to admit him”, according to Quartz.

TMU has pledged greater transparency about its admissions practices.

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