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A Japanese university penalized female applicants to make up for men’s shortcomings

Wikimedia Commons
Yet another one.
  • Isabella Steger
By Isabella Steger

Asia deputy editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

In what’s starting to seem like a national pattern, another Japanese university admitted to deliberately disadvantaging female medical-school applicants.

Juntendo University, a private university in Tokyo, said yesterday (Dec. 10) that its medical school had wrongly failed (link in Japanese) 165 people who sat entrance examinations in 2017 and 2018—an error that affected mostly women but also men who were retaking the test. The school said that 48 people who failed for the second time last year, of which 47 are women, would have their scores adjusted and be allowed to pass. The remaining 117 people who had failed the first time would have their examination fees refunded (link in Japanese).

The university gave two reasons for rigging the scores against female applications. First, it said that women were more mature compared with their male peers and had better communication skills. As a result, they tended to perform better in the interview portion of the application process, so it needed to adjust the scores to compensate for the male applicants’ shortcomings. It also said it didn’t have enough student housing for female medical students. Juntendo University’s president apologized during a press conference in Tokyo for the incident.

At Juntendo University, the gender gap in acceptance rates is widest at its medical school, according to a survey conducted by the education ministry.

The findings were revealed as part of a government-ordered probe into 81 schools across the country for other instances of test-score rigging, after news came to light in August that Tokyo Medical University had for years doctored the scores of female applicants. Showa University in Tokyo was the second school to admit to rigging test scores against those who were retaking entrance exams, as well as accepting under-qualified relatives of alumni, but denied that it had discriminated against women. The education ministry had previously said that (paywall) men passed exams at higher rates (link in Japanese) than women at about 80% of the schools it had surveyed.

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 photo above is credited to Kakidai [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

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