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14% of medical students in Japan asked personal questions, including on marriage and childbirth, during entrance interviews

JIJI

A total of 14 percent of medical students said they were asked personal questions on topics including marriage and childbirth during their entrance examination interviews, a survey showed Tuesday.

Some female students were asked whether they thought being pregnant was an advantage or a disadvantage, according to interim results of the survey announced by a nationwide association of student unions at medical schools.

The ongoing survey, which is set to close at the end of this month, began in November last year in response to revelations over unfair admissions at medical schools.

The survey covers students, both male and female, enrolled in the department of medicine at 81 universities throughout Japan. The interim results were based on answers collected by Feb. 1 from 2,186 respondents at 50 universities.

According to the results, most personal questions focused on whether applicants would be able to juggle family and work if they got married or had children.

Some respondents, however, said they were asked questions that did not sound tolerant of diverse career paths. For example, one female respondent was asked if female doctors actually want to focus on housework or child-raising, rather than medicine.

According to the results, 5 percent of all respondents were asked questions that focused on their age.

Among those who did not go to medical school straight after graduating from high school, 8 percent were asked questions about their age, and for those who took medical school entrance exams after changing majors, the proportion rose to 25 percent.

A respondent said he was asked whether he really intends to become a doctor if he was granted admission to the school, while another older applicant was questioned whether he had the ability to contribute to the university over a shorter number of working years.

“There is still a sense of discrimination toward women and older people, seen as less valuable in the labor force,” association head Sakura Yamashita, who is in the fifth year at the University of Miyazaki, told a news conference.

Yamashita expressed a wish for improvement to the work environment and reform so that diverse work styles can be accepted.

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