Tokyo Medical University Needs to Cure its Sexism

Courtesy of The Japanese Times

Tokyo Medical University, one of the most prestigious medical schools in Japan, recently admitted to skewing the results of its entrance exams in order to admit less women. While women’s scores were decreased to below the cutoff line, the scores of several men were manipulated to increase by as much as 49 points. Subsequently, the 2018 school year saw the admission of 141 males and 30 females – meaning that 8.8% of male applicants were accepted compared to the mere 2.9% of female applicants.

This practice stems from the notion that women should drop out of their careers early to raise their children, forcing women to feel as if they must choose between becoming mothers and having paying jobs. Consequently, it ignores those who don’t have or want children while perpetuating a dangerously sexist culture that has been rooted in Japan for centuries.

According to Elaine Lies, a reporter for Reuters, the university assumed that accepting too many women would “lead to a shortage of doctors at the university hospital” due to their supposed duty to focus on family life. However, they didn’t take into account that turning too many women away would result in an investigation into all Japanese medical schools by the Japanese Education Ministry.

Is an investigation enough to permanently alter Japan’s deeply rooted sexism?

In her interview with NPR, Elaine Lies mentioned that the discrimination at the university had been happening since 2006 – twelve years of systematic oppression. Twelve years of women that were wrongfully turned away and men that were unfairly boosted. Twelve years of sexism that had been shoved under the rug. Hopefully, the Education Ministry’s investigation of Japanese medicals is indicative of the future – that there won’t be twelve more years of this unfair practice, and that Tokyo Medical University and other schools will soon learn that women can excel in their fields if they are given a chance to do so.

All they need is an equal opportunity.


-Elise Hsu