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Medical school exam scandal exposes bias against female doctors in Japan


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Has anyone thought about the fact that not allowing woman, that SHOULD have passed the exam, into medical school allowed some men, that SHOULD NOT have passed, in?

16 ( +18 / -2 )

male doctors have to bear extra burdens when female physicians cannot work due to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare

The double standard and denial is astounding, and the reluctance to affect change is such rubbish. Will anything come of all this talk and rationalising of these sexist attitudes?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Absolutely stupid system, discrimination based on a noncence idea of gender roles. And a resistance to change staff management or acknowledge that suffering long hours should not be seen as normal. Being proud of being exhausted, discriminated against is not part of having a happy life.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Give me a friggin' break. The obstetrician who delivered my son was off-duty when my daughter was born two years later, yet despite being four days before the birth due-date, at 3:00 AM, and with this particular obstetrician off duty, as she had left a note that, if we showed up, she should be called, she appeared. She just wanted to attend the birth of my son's sibling.

Something tells me a male physician would not have gone to such great lengths. Sexism is no worse than racism in evaluating a specific outcome.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

So you mean to say that, the male doctors people who are sick and possibly close to death go to see may actually not be qualified enough? Because by limiting women who were possibly more qualified allowed men who were not qualified enough to pass? Thus sending the bottom of the barrel type out into the community? Well now that's just really unbelievable, playing Russian Roulette with the Japanese community. I wonder now how many deaths were attributed to this doctoring of test exams?

Need a follow up story on possible related deaths!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan will never change.

Japanese women should just give up on hopes of Japan ever changing and leave Japan.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

This is a terrible practice, the victims should sue the school and get their money back at least if not more and of course heads should roll.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Something tells me a male physician would not have gone to such great lengths. 

@Laguna - you're being a bit sexist yourself there.

Butthe one thing I have learned from all this is that in Japan you are probably better off having a female doctor because the chances are they are going to be better than the male doctors.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Not only do the women of Japan need to speak up and have some sort of Woman's Movement, but so to do the men of Japan - they need to stop thinking work is the most important thing. Family should ALWAYS come first ... for both men and women.

When we are all gone from this world, who is going to remember us - our work or our families????????

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Medical school exam scandal exposes bias against female doctors in Japan

The word ‘doctors’ is not necessary in this headline. Generally, women have much more success in Japan, especially in education and sports. However, they would be much more successful without the prejudices and biases of Japanese society. I think Japanese men are afraid of successful women and that is why they keep this strong prejudice, especially in the workplace. Look at the success of the Tokyo governor Koike. She has spent the last three years undoing all wrongs and exposing all the scandals of that Ishahara goon. Japanese women are much stronger and much more intelligent than Japanese men will ever be.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

In my hospital, about 70% of doctors are male. There is a childcare center for staff. In japan women maybe take 6 months off to give birth and recover. Return to work. Women doctors are usually assigned professions that are not complicated, or can be easily replaced. This stops their ambition.

but male doctors in my hospital work till 10pm, and release stress in snack bars.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Along with the usual sexism in Japan, this also demonstrates an underlying view of employees as indentured servants who are always available for long hours, never leave, and never take holidays or a sabbatical. This hurts men as well as women. As often mentioned on these forums, dealing with absences is what staff management is supposed to do. In Japan, you (and the prevailing culture) just bully people into working all the time.

Getting back to sexism, but the biggest loser in Japanese society is the ambitious woman. One of the winners is the unambitious woman who is perfectly happy with the status quo. In sensible countries, there is nothing wrong with one parent being a full-time homemaker, nothing at all. In Japan though, homemaking is elevated to the level of cult, the all powerful "okaasan". This actively drags down other women. The elevation of homemaking is illogical because hundreds of millions of families worldwide have proved that you can raise healthy, well-adjusted kids with two working parents.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

"As often mentioned on these forums, dealing with absences is what staff management is supposed to do."

I would like to deepen the discussion on this point if possible. I'm in no way endorsing the practice of discrimination, which is fundamentally unfair (however, let's not forget that a private university can set its own admission rules, by deciding the quota for men and women, accepting only those they want, etc). I feel sorry for all the girls who were snubbed due to the bias (on the other hand, I personally think it's pointless to devote so many years and efforts into such a demanding and high-level profession only to decide to become a full-time sengyo-shufu for the rest of your life a couple of years later... but this is just my opinion).

However, I'm trying to see the situation from their eyes and understand the underlying motives behind the discriminatory selection. I don't believe the explanation is as simple as sexism and disregarding the skills of women. Some of the best doctors I've met in Japan were all women. I actually think the hospitals are indeed worried over highly likely resignations or long-term maternity leaves that will render them understaffed. Probably more of a worry in the countryside than Tokyo, but still a valid worry.

My question is how is this type of situation solved in other countries? Maybe I've lived in Japan for too long, but I can somehow relate to why many employees are hesitant to take long time off work. In my work, for example, if I go away, there's literally no one else to substitute me and take over my tasks - either because my co-workers have no idea or expertise on what I'm doing, or because they physically cannot take double load. I schedule my vacation time half a year in advance to make sure everyone is prepared. But if something unexpected happens and I have to take time off suddenly, I really don't see how my management would cope with it. Probably will be forced to tell our clients and partners that we can't complete the projects in time - something unacceptable in Japan. So how do managers in other countries solve this? By hiring more people than necessary?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You guys only shout sexism and shame but know nothing, this is a real problem. As someone who works in the medical field i know a little better, the increase population of women in medical schools is happening everywhere in the world but its also bringing some problems. As you know, doctors are expected to work long and unconventional hours, and this cant be change, it always have been like this and it will always be, in fact, its probably increasing, you cant imagine the amount of hours doctors have to spend nowadays writing notes, follow-ups, updating medical histories, ordering lab exams, etc etc. The amount of bureaucracy that doctors have to do now is insane, everything and I mean everything has to be recorded in minute detail, some doctors spend more time in front of a computer than with patients.

The problem is that many women (and not only in Japan) dont want to work this hard or long, most of them want family friendly specialties, 9-5 (or less) jobs, and most take also time off for childbirth or even completely quit medicine for some years to focus on raising and taking care of the kids. Most women WANT to do this, not like anyone is forcing them, and some completely quit medicine. This is all good and natural but you cannot do this with a career in medicine! and with endless work to be done in hospitals. Is such a waste and a lost opportunity for someone else.

In many countries women occupy now 50% or 60% of medical schools places. Take liberal Germany for example, they have a shortage of doctors, and this is part of the problem (not the whole reason). Many doctors in Germany are currently suggesting to impose a minimum percentage of intake male students in all medical schools because of this same reasons.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Cross training for one, capable staff, and a staff management system that acknowledges that each staff member is not a foundation for the work place to operate. Work to live not live to work? This idea that sacrifice for a job, is Nobal! That's at the core of this. Can be the most clueless employee have no life, stay exta hours...after some years of useless time spent, become a manager. Instead of embracing a dynamic fluid work place environment.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The med school scandal is really deplorable. However. discrimination against women is not Japan’s monopoly. In the US, it often happens that white male patients angrily get out of hospital when they learn that a Black or Asian female doctor is assigned to them.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )


I understand you points, but where does it stop. Accounting industry, Legal, police, engineers fields. Can any industry say we're not going to hire women for fear of them quitting. Maybe the medical field needs to look into ways to helping female or male doctors who have families.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hell its math, simple math say 12 employees each with 4 to 6 weeks holidays a year + 10 days sick leave, and in some countries 5 mental health days. Can't cope with giving staff that then your understaffed and need a new business model. People need time for family, recreation, having babies, raising a family. Work is fleeting and not as above said no one remembers what you did for a job but who you were as a person.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'd like to say that this also happens in other medical schools, but most prominently in Japan. I had a female high school classmate who is super smart and hard working. When she took the admission test for med school, she told me there was bias towards the female applicants (stating that some of them might need years off if they get pregnant or marry during their study) and had to be interviewed even tho she got a passing grade. Gender discrimination and biases among Asian countries in general prevails to this day, its just that Japan in a shining example of it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The original cause why women tend to be alienated in Japanese workplaces is the super crazy hard work custom rather than misogyny. Most of the average Japanese women can't bear the super crazy hard work while even the men almost can't bear it unless they sacrifice their whole life and quit to be human. This is the reason why tough obedient slaves who are ex-athlete and and accustomed to senpai-kohai slave system since their school days are liked most in the Japanese workplaces. So if you want to eliminate this discrimination, you need to eliminate the super crazy work custom first.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And what's been done about this "revelation"? NOTHING. THAT shows more about the nation than not allowing women in shows the attitude of the medical industry and doctors towards women.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This is not good is it? This is going to stop now.

Please let this stop now, this is the 21st century. ne.

We are a regal people. Regal people do not behave like peasants.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Freedom of choice and equality have not been considered as individual values by many non-European/USA countries.

Each country its own, but don't cry if it gets hell for many. Japan should know better and start giving family a more deserved position compare to work.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wouldn't hospitals pretty much shut down if it wasn't for the nurses?

Nurses are what, 90-95% female?

This suggests to me that hospitals could quite easily manage with more female doctors...

...or does a nefarious policy exist somewhere to address this critical problem and employ more male nurses?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It’s funnt that, Japanese companies always come back to the ‘women have babies and take leave’ scenario as the main reason for discrimination in the workplace. It is quite logical to conclude that, Japanese men are so flipping useless they cannot succeed without the women in their workplace, which leads to this strong discrimination.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


I'm just assuming based on the motives suggested by the medical school. Probably many of the ladies return to work, although I keep hearing conflicting opinions about whether the institution of sengyo-shufu is dying out in Japan or not.


Fair point, but somehow in Japan I can't imagine many independent doctors on stand by waiting to be called as a replacement whenever needed. Most of them don't have enough time even for their own small clinics.

Takeshi Hasegawa

You say "to eliminate the super crazy work custom", but how do you suggest to do that? Anyone who works in a company in Japan knows the flow is very congested and busy. Japanese companies are too big and constantly need to run a million projects and deals at the same time. If I suggest to my management "let's run fewer projects so that we're not so busy", the company will simply start earning less. It's pure capitalism at its purest form, and in my opinion that's the essence of the problem.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I see not much has changed since Sutematsu : https://imgur.com/a/tuv130b

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't think one has to look farther than this to see where the problem lies

The 35-year-old husband of a doctor said his wife is mainly in charge of childcare despite her long work hours because society believes "men don't need to help around the house."

While the problem may not be fictitous, these discriminatory policy as a response to them certainly is.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Phoenixnikki: "I personally think it's pointless to devote so many years and efforts into such a demanding and high-level profession only to decide to become a full-time sengyo-shufu for the rest of your life a couple of years later... "

Well, that's part of the problem. People like you expect them to do that, instead of supporting women if they wish to continue their career. I know some female doctors who have children and the women are not only incredibly successful, but the family fully functional and happy. They were so because they received support at home and from work. The latter is too rare because of dinosaurs thinking they should automatically be finished once they give birth (which you also seem to expect them to do).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Absolutely stupid system, discrimination based on a noncence idea of gender roles. 

Very true. If these same Japanese women applied for a medical school in the United States they would have points added to their test totals. Unless of course they apply to a regular college such as Harvard or the University of North Carolina where points are deducted because of the fear of having too many Asians. Bias is bias. Discrimination is discrimination. End it - don’t mend it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If these same Japanese women applied for a medical school in the United States they would have points added to their test totals.

But they didn't. They applied to a Japanese medical university.

Put the dog whistle in the pouch - do you condemn what happened here?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some of the best nurses are women - and they work as long hours as the doctors

1 ( +1 / -0 )


You misunderstood me completely. I was referring to the fact that it's a waste if you decide to dump so many years of hard work and never return to your job after investing so much into it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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