A prestigious Japanese medical university allegedly doctored female applicants’ entrance exam scores for years because school officials believed that once women get married or have children they are less dependable workers than men.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest daily newspapers, published a groundbreaking report Thursday that accused Tokyo Medical University of deducting points from women’s entrance exams to ensure that women only account for 30 percent of students at the school. The report alleges that school officials believed women wouldn’t contribute to the university’s hospital staff.
One anonymous source explained to Yomiuri Shimbun why the university began doctoring female applicants’ exams.
“Many female students who graduate end up leaving the actual medical practice to give birth and raise children,” the source said, according to Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. “There was a silent understanding (to accept more male students) as one way to resolve the doctor shortage.”
The South China Morning Post also reported a source told Yomiuri Shimbun that “There is a consensus inside the university that male doctors support the university hospital.”
Although the number of doctors in Japan has increased slightly in recent years, a shortage of doctors has plagued the country for decades. The shortage of medical professionals in Japan stems from most doctors choosing to work in larger cities and in similar fields such as dermatology and ophthalmology to avoid working long hours.
Yomiuri Shimbun found that between 2009 and 2010 the incoming rate of female students to Tokyo Medical University doubled, with women making up 40 percent of the 2010 class. According to a translation by The Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, citing unnamed sources, reported the school began doctoring exam scores for the 2011 class by deducting anywhere between 10 to 20 points from female applicants’ tests.
Asahi Shimbun analyzed Tokyo Medical University’s pool of 2018 students and found that only 30 women were accepted, compared to 141 men.
“Following the report this morning, we asked a law firm to launch an internal investigation into the reported issue,” a spokesman for the Tokyo Medical University Fumio Azuma said, according to South China Morning Post.
Executive board member of Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women Ruriko Tsushima condemned the university’s alleged gender discrimination in an interview with the Japan Times.
“I can’t forgive (what the institution is said to have) done to people who studied hard to get into the university, hoping to become doctors,” she said. “It shouldn’t happen in a democratic country that is supposed to provide equal educational opportunities.”
Tokyo Medical University is currently under investigation over accusations of corruption and bribery. According to Japan Times, school officials added points to high-level education ministry official Futoshi Sano’s son’s entrance exam scores in exchange for access to a school financial grant. Sano was arrested last month and is denying all allegations. The investigation into Sano intensified media scrutiny of the school’s practices.
CORRECTION: The photo in a previous version of this story portrayed the wrong medical school.