The Yomiuri ShimbunTokyo Medical University has for years deliberately reduced the scores of women who took its general entrance exam, in a bid to cut the number of successful female applicants, it has been learned.
The Tokyo-based private institution has manipulated scores since around 2011, unfairly penalizing female examinees without saying anything to test-takers, according to a university source. The practice is sure to ignite controversy — it is extremely rare for a university to be discovered to be manipulating, arbitrarily and for sexist purposes, entrance exams for general applicants.
There were two stages in this year’s general entrance exam in February for the university’s school of medicine, which was for applicants other than those who took the test administered by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations or other special types of exams.
Candidates were first tested in science, English and mathematics with a total of 400 points, and those who passed the initial screening then had to write a short essay, for 100 points maximum, and be interviewed.
Passing depended on the combined scores for the two stages.
According to the source, the university took such steps as applying a certain coefficient to the scores of female examinees at the point when all the scores from the first-stage screening were on the table. These measures created a gap in the pass rates of male and female examinees.
The general entrance exam was taken by 1,596 men and 1,018 women this year. The pass rates for the first-stage screening were 18.9 percent, or 303 people, for men and 14.5 percent, or 148 people, for women.
The final pass rates after the second stage were 8.8 percent, or 141, for men and 2.9 percent, or 30, for women.
Tokyo Medical University started manipulating scores to reduce the number of successful female applicants following its 2010 general entrance exam, according to the source. That year, successful female applicants accounted for almost 40 percent of the total, a surge from 2009, when the rate was over 20 percent.
Since 2011, the medical institution has tried to keep the proportion of successful female applicants at about 30 percent, according to the source, and the rate has actually hovered around that level since then for its general entrance exam.
In 2010, the pass rate for female test-takers was higher than that of men. Since then, however, the pass rate of male applicants has exceeded that of women every year.
The source admitted that the university reduced the scores of female test-takers across the board.
“Women often quit their jobs due to marriage and childbirth after graduating from the university,” the source told The Yomiuri Shimbun. “There is a strong feeling within the university that male doctors support the medical services at its hospitals.”
The source also said, “In general, female applicants are more competent [than their male counterparts], and we can’t avoid more women passing the exam if it is administered in a normal way.”
A 19-year-old female student failed to pass the university’s general entrance exam in February and now is studying at a preparatory school. “It’s sexist and really sad if being a woman is a disadvantage,” she said. “If that’s the case, no women will aspire to be doctors.”
An official of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s university entrance exam office said: “Screening methods should be stipulated in an application guidebook to the greatest extent possible. It is not good if an exam is manipulated arbitrarily, without releasing criteria.”