A medical university in Tokyo that was recently found to have manipulated entrance exam scores to discriminate against female applicants has chosen its first female president, officials said Thursday.
Yukiko Hayashi, head of pathophysiology at Tokyo Medical University’s School of Medicine, on Wednesday beat her sole rival — a male pediatrician — in an election among professors. She is expected to officially assume the top post next Tuesday upon approval by the board of regents.
Her predecessor, Mamoru Suzuki, stepped down in July after his alleged involvement in a bribery case came to light. He was later indicted on suspicion of ensuring backdoor admission for a bureaucrat’s son in exchange for a government subsidy.
Hayashi, an alumna of the school, has taught at the university since 2013 as a senior professor and has served as deputy head of the university hospital’s center for genetic diagnosis since 2016.
The choice of a woman to lead the university after the scandal is believed to be an attempt to limit the damage to the school’s reputation and recover public trust.
On Aug. 7 the scandal-ridden university admitted that it had deliberately curbed female enrollment for at least 12 years by deducting exam points for women. The score-rigging was aimed at keeping the ratio of women studying at the university at around 30 percent.
The practice was conducted to prevent a shortage of doctors at affiliated hospitals under the rationale that female doctors tend to resign or take long leaves of absence after getting married or giving birth. The revelation caused outrage among female medical professionals.
It also prompted the education ministry to investigate whether the practice was widespread across the country. The ministry survey showed earlier this month that men passed entrance exams more than women at nearly 80 percent of the 81 medical schools polled over the past six years.
Tokyo Medical University also deducted points from male applicants who had failed the school’s annual entrance exam more than three times. The university shunned them, believing they also tend to fail the national exam for medical practitioners, which would lower the school’s ratio of successful applicants and hurt its reputation.
The school also padded the scores of some applicants with alumni parents to garner donations.
The manipulation came to light in the course of an internal investigation prompted by a bribery scandal which also led to the resignation of university Chairman Masahiko Usui in July. The school is set to choose his successor in the near future.
In 2017, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 114th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality. Among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, Japan has the lowest ratio of female doctors at 20.4 percent, according to 2015 statistics of the Paris-based group of 36 nations.