By Vanessa Romo
A Japanese medical school that admitted to systematically rigging its entrance exams to prevent eligible women from enrolling announced it would retroactively admit 67 who had recently been denied their rightful spots, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
A months-long internal investigation into Tokyo Medical University’s admissions processes revealed that the school had been slashing women’s test scores for at least a decade. Meanwhile, some men were given bonus points to boost their scores.
Officials rationalized the practice by claiming that women, trained to become doctors, often quit early in their careers to get married, have children and raise their families. The officials institutionalized the discriminatory system, because they feared these behaviors would eventually lead to a shortage of doctors at the university hospital.
Ultimately, the aim was to artificially reduce women’s enrollment numbers from a high of nearly 40 percent in 2010 to approximately 30 percent in 2018, a goal that was achieved.
According to figures reported by The New York Times, 140 men — 8.8 percent of 1,596 male applicants — were accepted in 2018. Whereas only 30 women — 2.9 percent of 1,018 female applicants — were accepted the same year.
The university has pledged to offer spots to 67 of the women denied in the last two years, the AP reported. It is unclear how many women will accept the school’s offer, and how their acceptance might increase total female enrollment numbers.
University President Yukiko Hayashi, who took over the post after her predecessor’s resignation, “declined to comment on what the school will do about dozens of male students who were wrongfully given additional points and accepted instead of the women,” the AP said.
“We will conduct fair entrance exams and never let the inappropriate practice be repeated,” she said. “Nobody should be discriminated against because of gender.”
School officials apologized when the scandal first became public in August.
Tetsuo Yukioka, the university’s managing director, and Keisuke Miyazawa, vice president of the university, apologized at a news conference held in the wake of the investigation earlier in the year.
“We betrayed the public trust. We want to sincerely apologize for this,” Yukioka said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.
“When I think about the female applicants who could have been admitted but were denied, my heart aches for them,” Miyazawa said.
The scandal has caused outrage throughout the country, bringing to light Japan’s deep problem with gender discrimination. Despite possessing one of the largest economies in the world, women represent a small fraction of elite professions.
Abe’s agenda includes creating a path for women to be in 30 percent of the country’s leadership positions by 2020.