In August, news that Tokyo Medical University had for years doctored the test scores of female applicants to admit fewer women sent shockwaves through Japan and around the world. While we may never know the true extent of how many aspiring doctors had their dreams dashed as a result of the rigging, some initial estimates of the damage done are starting to emerge.
Today (Oct. 24), a third-party panel investigating the test-rigging at the university said that the manipulation of test scores resulted in the rejection of 69 applicants who had passed the tests, including 55 women. The findings, however, apply only to applicants in the last two years, though the practice had been going on for over a decade. The panel also suggested the possibility that the school offer to admit those applicants for the academic year starting April 2019. The school said it would announce its response in November.
Senior officials at the university lowered the number of female applicants as they believed that women were likely to drop out of the workforce once they became pregnant.
Japan has the lowest proportion of female doctors among the wealthy nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, accounting for only 21% of doctors in the country.
The manipulation of test scores at Tokyo Medical University happened under the auspices of those at the very top of the school, including its former president. He was indicted earlier this year, along with another university official, for bribing a former education ministry bureaucrat by admitting his son in return for government subsidies. The school elected a woman as its new president for the first time ever in September.
Tokyo Medical University is by no means the only school in Japan where such manipulation of test scores took place. Following a nationwide investigation by the education ministry that covered 81 schools, Showa University in Tokyo last week became the second university to admit to rigging test scores against those who were sitting exams for the second time or more, and accepting under-qualified relatives of alumni, but it denied discriminating against women. The ministry also said that (paywall) it found that other schools had discriminated against female applicants, without naming the institutions, and that men passed exams at higher rates than women at 80% of the schools surveyed.