The Yomiuri ShimbunIn university entrance examinations, for which correctness and fairness are major principles, scores are said to have been secretly lowered just because the applicants were women. If this is true, there is no alternative but to say it is a betrayal of test-takers.
The allegation has come to light that Tokyo Medical University, already shaken by a bribery scandal that involved rigging an entrance exam, kept the number of successful female applicants low by reducing their scores across the board in this year’s general entrance exam for its school of medicine.
A source involved admitted the practice, but the university side said it is not aware of it. If the university’s explanation is ambiguous, applicants will never be satisfied. The university must uncover the truth by conducting a thorough investigation into the matter, including past entrance exams.
It is believed that the university applied a specific coefficient to lower the scores of female test-takers after the grading of the first-stage screening, using computer-graded multiple choice answer sheets, was finished.
The pass rate for this year’s first-stage screening was 18.9 percent for men and 14.5 percent for women. The final pass rate, which followed a short essay test and interview, showed a gap with 8.8 percent for men and 2.9 percent for women. This result seems to indicate the scores were manipulated arbitrarily.
Setting an admission quota by gender itself is not a problem.
However, this should be based on the premise that such a quota is made public in advance. Tokyo Medical University is suspected of having lowered the scores of female applicants and having kept the pass rate for them at a certain level since around 2011, while withholding knowledge of such a practice from applicants.
Tip of the iceberg?
It is reasonable that as a principle, “Entrance exams that unfairly discriminate against women are totally unacceptable,” said Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.
At the university, women accounted for nearly 40 percent of total successful applicants in the 2010 entrance exam. It has been said that this prompted the university to start the manipulation, such as the reduction of the scores.
Many doctors who have graduated from a medical university work at its affiliated hospitals. The source said: “Women tend to leave their profession after marriage or childbirth. There is a strong feeling within the university that male doctors support the university’s hospitals.”
Even though the university made the business decision amid concerns over a shortage of doctors, the method of deliberately excluding women at the entrance exam stage is intolerable. It is the university’s duty to create an environment in which female doctors can work comfortably.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has placed a focus on the return of female doctors who left their jobs to give birth. In February, a panel of experts compiled an urgent proposal stressing the need for support for female doctors. Tokyo Medical University’s stance goes against such a trend.
Last year, among those seeking admission to medical departments nationwide, 6.6 percent of men and 5.9 percent of women were enrolled. The gender gap was notable compared with that for departments such as science and engineering.
The possibility has been raised that Tokyo Medical University’s case is the tip of the iceberg.