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Two more Japanese medical schools admit discriminating against women

Two more Japanese medical schools admit discriminating against women Published Date : 13 Dec 2018
A sexism row engulfing Japan’s medical schools has deepened after two more universities admitted discriminating against female applicants, months after it was revealed that Tokyo Medical University had manipulated exam scores to favour male candidates.

Juntendo University and Kitasato University, both in Tokyo, said this week that they had set a lower pass mark for men than for women in order to secure a sufficient number male graduates to enter the medical profession.

“Women mature faster mentally than men, and their communication ability is also higher by the time they take the university exam,” Hiroyuki Daida, dean of Juntendo’s medical school, told reporters, according to the Asahi newspaper. “In some ways, this was a measure to help male applicants.”

It also said that its dormitory for women was unable to accommodate a higher number of students. A third-party committee said the university’s explanation was unacceptable.

Kitasato university admitted on its website that it had also prioritised male candidates.

Revelations this summer that Tokyo Medical University had deliberately altered entrance exam scores for more than a decade caused an outcry in Japan and fuelled suspicions that other institutions operated a similarly discriminatory admissions policy.

The Tokyo medical school rigged the scores of a large number of women, arguing that female doctors tend to quit the profession when they start families, creating staff shortages at already overstretched clinics and hospitals.

Two women who sat the entrance exam in recent years told the Guardian they felt “betrayed” when they learned they might be among those whose scores had been manipulated.

In October, 24 women demanded that the school pay them 100,000 yen (£700) each in damages for “emotional distress”, along with their exam fees and travel expenses.

In the wake of the Tokyo medical school revelations the education ministry launched an investigation into 81 other universities with medical faculties.

Statistics from recent entrance exams at Juntendo highlight the obstacles placed in the way of female candidates.

Its medical school has rejected 165 applicants – including 121 women – over the past two years, even though they had performed satisfactorily in at least the first part of the two-part entrance exam. Men were 1.67 times more likely to pass than women.

The gap between the ratio of successful male and female candidates was higher at Juntendo than at any of the other surveyed institutions, the Mainichi newspaper said.

Initially Juntendo and other universities insisted they had not set out to discriminate against women, and did not concede their admissions policy was problematic until it was pointed out by independent investigators.

“We have never been involved in illicit practices such as backdoor admissions or discrimination against women, but we’ve made some adjustments (to exam scores) between male and female applicants,” the Mainichi quoted a source close to the university as saying in October.

This week, however, the university’s president, Hajime Arai, apologised to the unfairly rejected candidates. “At that time, we judged that the measure was reasonable at our university’s discretion,” he, said, according to the Asahi. “We will end the practice now that it has been pointed out that it was inappropriate.”

The scandal is the latest setback to Japanese government attempts to raise the profile of working women, particularly in senior positions.

According to the World Bank, women now account for more than 43% of Japan’s overall workforce, but they are underrepresented in professions such as medicine. In 2017, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 114th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality, down 23 places from a decade ago.
Source:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/12/two-more-japanese-medical-schools-admit-discriminating-against-women

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