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Sexism

A Japanese medical school stopped rigging its exams to favor men — and women outperformed them

By WITW Staff on June 20, 2019

Last year, at least nine medical schools in Japan were found to have been tampering with entrance exam scores to give male applicants an advantage. In the wake of the scandal, Juntendo University in Tokyo revised its practices — and now, the school says, women are outperforming men on the exams.

The university recently announced that of the 1,679 women who took its entrance test this year, 139 women, or 8.28 percent, passed, According to The Guardian. Male candidates did not fare as well: Only 7.72 percent of the 2,202 men who took the exam achieved a passing grade.

This is the first time in seven years that more women than men have passed the exam at the university — a direct result of the university’s decision to “abolish the unfair treatment of female applicants,” the institution said.

A similar phenomenon has occurred at Tokyo Medical University, which for years had been altering exam results so that less than 30 percent of successful applicants were women. As Quartz reported last month, the school announced that 20.2 percent of women passed its entrance exam for the 2019 school year, compared to 19.8 of male applicants.

When the scandal first came to light — shocking people in Japan and around the world — the implicated schools gave various reasons as to why they had been rigging exams to exclude women. Tokyo Medical University reportedly believed that female graduates would stop practicing medicine once they had children. The dean of Juntendo University said that women perform better during the interview portion of the application because they are more mature and have superior communication skills — so test scores needed to be adjusted to level the playing field.

To many, the exam rigging scandal represented a larger problem of workforce sexism in Japan. The country ranked 110th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap report, in spite of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to bolster Japan’s economy by drawing more women into the workforce. Progress has indeed been halting; working women in Japan continue to endure maternity harassment, “pregnancy timetables,” and other obstacles to their success.

Gender discrimination, according to the Telegraph, is particularly rife in “traditional professions” like medicine. As of 2016, women made up just 21 percent of all doctors in Japan — the lowest percentage among the 36 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an intergovernmental group that seeks to foster economic progress and world trade.

Read more at The Guardian.

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