A top medical university in Japan was found systematically preventing female applicants from entering the school, local news sources revealed last week.
For about eight years now, private-run Tokyo Medical University was intentionally lowering the entrance exam results of female applicants in a bid to keep the ratio of women in each class of students below 30%.
An investigation into the university’s top administrators revealed that the institution, known as one of the country’s best, was applying a specific coefficient to the test scores of all female applicants to lower them by 10% to 20%.
In 2018, only 30 out of the 1,018 female applicants were admitted to the university, which accounts for just less than 3% percent compared to the nearly 9% of male applicants who gained admission.
The school’s administrators were investigated after getting embroiled in a separate controversy in which they were accused of accepting bribes from an education ministry official in July.
Allegations that the school inflated the grades of the ministry official’s son to secure him a spot at the school resulted in the resignation of the university board of regents chair Masahiko Usui and president Mamoru Suzuki.
Sources privy to the investigation revealed that the policy was seen as a “necessary evil” because the school has a skewed belief that female students would eventually leave the medical profession since they would give birth and raise their children.
“There was a silent understanding [to accept more male students] as one way to resolve the doctor shortage,” an unnamed source told Yomiuri Shimbun.
In an interview with Japan Times, Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women executive board member Kyoko Tanebe said that other medical institutions may have similar discriminatory policies towards female applicants.
Many have since criticized such a policy, noting that it is highly inappropriate to keep women out of medical school just because they may decide to leave the profession to pursue a different calling down the line.
“We have seen shutters come down right in front of us just because we were women, and we should not let our younger generations go through the same horrible experience,” writer and feminist activist Minori Kitahara tweeted.
Women’s empowerment minister-in-charge Seiko Noda has publicly stated that she is taking the reported policy “extremely seriously.”
“Any admissions process that wrongfully discriminates against women is absolutely not acceptable,” Noda told reporters. “It is extremely important to improve the working environment so that women can pursue their medical professions.”