Tokyo Medical University says sorry for lowering women's test scores

Days after a Japanese medical school made headlines for its unethical practice of lowering test scores to exclude women, officials apologised saying their “heart aches” for those deserving female applicants who missed out.

The Tokyo Medical University found itself in embroiled in the score-rigging scandal when an investigation discovered the school’s shady methods of keeping the female intake at only 30 percent.

Findings released by lawyers involved in the investigation showed the practice of altering the computerised marking system has been going on for decades.

The reason behind the mark tampering was a belief that female doctors tended to resign or take leave after getting married or giving birth.

It was only upon being caught that the school conceded to change their practice and consider possible compensation for those affected.

“We deeply apologise for having inconvenienced and caused so many people pain with such a serious scandal,” university director Tetsuo Yukioka said, as reported by ABC News.

“Society is changing rapidly and we need to respond to that, and any organisation that fails to utilise women will grow weak and fail to contribute to society.”

The school said it would consider retroactively admitting those who otherwise would have passed the exams, although it did not explain how it would do so.

Yukioka claims those that were accepted were not treated any differently to their male counterparts, but he also acknowledged the belief that some women were not allowed to become surgeons.

Japan has one of the highest female tertiary education rates in the world at 50 percent. But traditional Japanese culture can often hold women back once they enter the workforce. They are still considered responsible for the familial care, homemaking, and childrearing, while men are seen as the breadwinners.

This is not just restricted to Japan, however, with female doctors in the United States showing more pronounced depressive symptoms due predominantly to work-family conflict.

study in JAMA Internal Medicine found female physicians continue to shoulder the bulk of household and childcare duties, bringing on higher stress and depression levels.

In Japan, the number of female doctors who have passed the national medical exam has plateaued at around 30 percent, despite an increase in applicants. The discrepancy in figures has led some experts to question whether other medical schools are also discriminating against women.

The university was also found to boost the scores of applicants who were children of alumni in a bid to garner donations from parents.

The education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters he planned to examine the entrance procedures of all medical schools.

This article first appeared on our sister website Asian Correspondent.

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