Image: Ryoji Iwata / Unsplash
Image: Ryoji Iwata / Unsplash

Tokyo Medical University changes test scores to curb female participation

Reports have alleged that Tokyo Medical University altered the test scores of female students to reduce the number of women studying medicine at the institution.

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said the university began altering results of female applicants in 2011 to keep the number of women admitted below 30% each year.

This comes after results in 2010 demonstrated an increasing number of female students. In the same year, 40% of successful applicants were women.

There has since been a 22% decrease in successful female applicants. Reports found that 30 applications from female students were successful in 2018, compared with 141 males.

Tokyo Medical University spokesman Fumio Azuma confirmed that the changed test results would be investigated. The university has since admitted to altering the grades, and publicly apologised.

This news comes after it was found that the university had bribed Futoshi Sano, an education ministry bureaucrat. The institution demanded a financial grant, in exchange for adding points to his son’s entrance exam.

Other medical schools have taken similar measures to reduce female participation in medicine, according to Kyoko Tanebe, an executive board member at the Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women.

It shouldn’t happen in a democratic country that is supposed to provide equal educational opportunities

– Ruriko Tsushima

One source explained to the Yomiuri Shimbun that the cause behind this action was that women were less likely to enter a long career as a doctor after graduating, due to marriage and children.

In response, Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said: “Generally speaking, unjustly discriminating against female applicants in an entrance exam cannot be accepted at all.”

Regarding the news, Ruriko Tsushima, head of a women’s clinic in Tokyo, stated that she “can’t forgive” what the university has done, especially to “people who studied hard to get into university, hoping to become doctors”.

She added: “It shouldn’t happen in a democratic country that is supposed to provide equal educational opportunities.”

Historically, female participation in Japan’s workforce has been low. Currently, 12.4% of legislators, senior officials and managers in Japan are female.

The country’s long working hours force women out of the workplace, and encourage them to start families instead. Since 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to boost women’s participation in the workforce by introducing ‘womenomics’.

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