Women beat men in passing medical school entrance exams in Japan for first time, study finds

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  • The number of women who passed their medical school entrance exams in Japan reportedly surpassed that of men for the 2021 academic year – a first in the country’s history, according to new data released by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology last week.
  • Out of 43,243 female applicants, 5,880 (13.60%) passed their exams while 8,421 out of 62,325 male applicants (13.51%) passed theirs.
  • The survey, released on Feb. 16, looked at male and female students at 81 of Japan’s universities with medical faculties.

New data released by Japan’s education ministry last week revealed that, for the first time in the country, the medical school entrance exam passing rate for women surpassed that of men.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology checked the entry exam passing rate of students across Japan’s 81 universities with medical faculties to find that the ratio of women who had passed their exams exceeded the ratio of men who passed theirs by 0.09%, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

The survey, released on Feb. 16, according to Japan Today, revealed that 8,421 male applicants passed the entrance exam out of the 62,325 (13.51%) who took it, while 5,880 out of 43,243 female applicants passed (13.60%). The results reflect the first time women have surpassed men in passing the medical school entrance exams since the ministry began collecting data in 2013.

The survey, which reflects the results of the 2021 academic year, beginning in April, also saw that just 38 out of 81 (46.91%) universities had reported lower pass rates for women than men, much lower than in previous years, according to The Asahi Shimbun. Previous years’ data reportedly showed that the pass rates for women were lower than those for men at more universities from 2013 to 2020.

Out of 10 universities that were previously found to have applied “improper entrance exam practices” putting female students at an unfair advantage in the past, including Nihon University, Iwate Medical University and Tokyo Medical University, six also saw an increase in the rate of acceptance for women, Japan Today reported.

According to Japan Times, a medical education ministry official said the results showed “hardly a gap” between the “rate of successful male and female applicants.”

It has become clear that the acceptance rate will not be low only for female applicants,” the official added.

The average success rates from 2013 to 2018, during which the universities were still using improper entrance exam practices, were at 11.25% for men and only 9.55% for women.

Japan reportedly has a lower proportion of female doctors compared to other countries included in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to The Guardian. A survey conducted in 2018 showed that only approximately 1 in 5 of the country’s doctors were women, whereas nearly half of other countries’ doctors were women in 2015, according to a Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report.

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