National

Women pass scandal-hit Tokyo Medical University's entrance exam at higher rate than men

by Chisato Tanaka

Staff Writer

This year’s pass ratio of female applicants for admission to the scandal-tainted Tokyo Medical University, which had discriminated against women for more than a decade, was slightly higher than that of male applicants, figures released by the university have shown.

The pass ratio for women was 20.2 percent, 0.4 percentage point higher than that of men. Last year, the successful ratio for women was only 2.9 percent, while that of men was 9 percent.

The surge in the pass rate for both sexes was apparently the result of entrance examination reform. Last year the university admitted it had systematically manipulated scores of female applicants so that it would admit far fewer women than men. Yukiko Hayashi, who in the wake of the scandal became the school’s first female president, had pledged to conduct a “fair and impartial” entrance exam this year.

“We usually release such figures around July, but considering the scandal we decided to release the figure early this year for the sake of transparency,” said a university spokesman.

According to the figures released Monday, the total number of applicants to the university plunged by over 60 percent, with 470 women and 771 men applying for admission, in what was likely a result of the fallout from the scandal.

The medical college started the discriminatory practice based on the belief that women tend to resign or take leaves of absence after getting married or giving birth. The move was said to be aimed at preventing a shortage of doctors at affiliated hospitals.

The revelation of the scandal was followed by reports of rampant discrimination against women at many other medical colleges, leading to public outcry.

On Tuesday, Tokyo Medical University also said it has issued acceptance letters to 44 applicants who had taken exams within the past two years but were denied entry because of the school’s discriminatory practices. In all, 24 of those receiving the letter have decided to enroll at the university, 16 of whom are women.

Under the discriminatory system, female applicants were only able to receive a maximum of 80 points out of 100 even if they answered all questions correctly. Male applicants who had already taken the exam four times or more were also subjected to the discriminatory practice.

The medical school reportedly disliked accepting male applicants who had failed a number of times because they also tend to fail the national exam for medical practitioners, which would bring down the university’s ratio of successful applicants and hurt its reputation.

A group of lawyers who conducted an internal investigation concluded that the computerized score-deduction system had been effectively in use since at least 2006 and that it had been kept hidden from the applicants.