Tokyo Medical University has been at the center of multiple scandals this summer, but the one that’s getting the most attention is the recent revelation that, since 2010, the school has been lowering the entrance exam scores of female applicants to its Department of Medicine by 10 to 20 percent. Allegedly the private school’s admissions administrators were worried that female students who went on to become doctors would be more likely to quit their job than their male counterparts, and sought to keep the proportion of women in incoming classes at 30 percent or less.
The prospect of women leaving the workforce, either temporarily or permanently, due to marriage or pregnancy has long been pointed to as a reason Japanese companies are more willing to promote men, but an educational institution systematically and secretly denying entrance to female applicants in this manner is something that hasn’t come to light before. Yet while Tokyo Medical University’s actions have brought a storm of controversy down on the school, a survey by Japanese Internet portal Joy.net found a surprising amount of understanding from an unexpected group.
Joy.net conducted a survey of Japanese female doctors, asking for their opinion on Tokyo Medical University’s test score tampering, and the breakdown of the 103 responses it received were:
● I can understand it. – 13.5 percent
● I can partially understand it. – 51.4 percent
● I can’t understand it. – 35.1 percent
In other words, the majority of the female doctors, 64.9 percent, could see the logic, in whole in part, behind Tokyo Medical University purposefully trying to limit how many female students it admitted, regardless of their academic merit. Among the comments participants in that segment of the survey left were:
“It’s a fact that when female doctors become pregnant or give birth, the people around them have to pick up the slack, and so there’s no avoiding the need to limit the number of women.”
“I myself limit the amount of work I do so that I can take care of my children, and as a result there are many work-related things I can’t do.”
“It’s a statistical fact that there’s a high turnover rate for female doctors. I think it’s obvious that there should be concern over them leaving for marriage or childbirth, and if they return to their positions, sometimes they can’t work full-time, so I can understand why male doctors would be seen as preferable.”
“I’m the mother of a two-year-old, and I’ve continued working my regular-length shifts…But there are many female doctors who, because of the pressure of the job, want to take pregnancy leave as soon as possible.”
One respondent even went so far as to say that she thinks that women who graduated from Tokyo Medical University will now be thought more highly of, as a result of their having overcome the deck that’s been stacked against them.
On the other side of the debate, the slightly over a third of the respondents who absolutely can’t accept the school’s reasoning voiced opinions such as:
“Many female doctors get married and have children, and though it’s difficult, they continue their careers while raising their kids.”
“Many doctors who are women and get married end up having children, and though it’s hard for them to work while raising their kids, they manage to do both, so I absolutely can’t understand the school’s reasoning, and I don’t want to.”
“The assumption that women quit their jobs because they’re women is outdated. Many male doctors make their wives take on all of the child-rearing responsibilities, and unless we create a working environment where it’s easier for female doctors to return to after taking maternity leave, we’re going to have a shortage of doctors.”
It’s worth noting that while 64.9 percent of the female doctors polled expressed a degree of understanding towards Tokyo Medical University’s actions, that’s not necessarily the same as supporting them. Nevertheless, this is another example that sometimes there’s more than just demographics at play in determining a person’s stance on social issues.
Sources: Joy.net, NHK News Web
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