Like many other women, the recent news about Tokyo Medical University’s discriminatory practice of limiting the number of successful female applicants made me furious. Using the excuse that female doctors “tend to take long absences or quit after marrying or giving birth,” since 2010, university officials in charge of entrance exams have been covertly cutting scores to artificially limit women to around 30 percent of those admitted each year.
This news hit very close to home for two reasons: Firstly, I know the associated Tokyo University Hospital well, as my husband spent a month there last autumn for a major surgery. I remember seeing groups of young medical residents walking around and, at the time, noting that only about one in three or four was a female. Secondly, my older daughter is in her third year of medical school in New Zealand.
This kind of practice has repercussions all through the system. Fewer female medical students translates to fewer women advancing to management roles within a hospital or medical university. If female doctors tend to take extended leaves of absences or quit after marriage and giving birth, then it means — nothing more, nothing less — that the system itself is flawed. And forging women’s test results won’t solve anything.
A vicious cycle
This is just one example—albeit, a particularly distasteful one—of how working women, and working mothers, in particular, can’t seem to catch a break. Everyone knows that Japan’s birth rate is dropping while the population is aging rapidly, meaning that there are fewer young working people to support the elderly. To this end, the Japanese government wants women to work more and have more children, but it lacks any concrete plans of how to create an infrastructure and work culture that encourages both these trends.
Click here to read more.© Savvy Tokyo