A Japanese medical school at the centre of a sexism row has offered places to dozens of women who were unfairly rejected in favour of male candidates.
Tokyo Medical University said this week that it would accept women whose exam scores were deliberately marked down to restrict the number of female students.
Tokyo Medical University
The school, which attracted a storm of criticism when the practice was exposed in the summer, also raised the scores of male candidates so that it could secure a steady stream of men entering the medical profession.
The school rigged the scores of a large number of women over more than a decade, saying that female doctors tend to quit the profession when they start families, creating staff shortages at clinics and hospitals.
The university’s president, Yukiko Hayashi, apologised and said 67 women who had been unfairly excluded over the past two years would be able to take up their places next April.
“We will conduct fair entrance exams and never allow a repeat of this inappropriate practice,” said Hayashi, who became the school’s first female president in September. “Nobody should be discriminated against because of gender. There are many female doctors who are doing a wonderful job.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the women would accept the offer, since many have already begun degrees at other universities.
Hayashi, who was appointed following the resignation of her predecessor amid bribery allegations, declined to explain how the university would deal with male students whose exam scores had been padded.
The school admitted in August that it had deliberately altered entrance exam scores since 2006 to restrict the number of female students and ensure more men became doctors.
The practice, which has been used at other medical schools, was revealed during an investigation into the alleged “backdoor entry” of an education ministry bureaucrat’s son in exchange for favourable treatment for the university in obtaining research funds.
The bureaucrat and the former head of the school have been charged with bribery.
The investigation found that in this year’s entrance exams the school reduced all applicants’ first-stage test scores by 20% and then added at least 20 points for male applicants, except those who had previously failed the test at least four times.
Two women who sat the entrance exam in recent years told the Guardian they felt “betrayed” when they learned they might be among those whose scores had been manipulated.
Last month, 24 women demanded that the school pay them 100,000 yen ($880) each in damages for “emotional distress”, along with their exam fees and travel expenses.