University dean previously said ‘women mature faster mentally than men’
Juntendo University in Tokyo said that of the 1,679 women who sat the exam earlier this year, 8.28 per cent had passed, compared to 7.72 per cent of the 2,202 male candidates.
This marks the first time in seven years the pass rate among women was higher than that among men at the private university, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.
“This is a result of abolishing the unfair treatment of female applicants and repeat applicants,” the university said in a statement.
Last year, several medical schools in Japan were found to have rigged exam results to give first-time male applicants an advantage over their female counterparts and those who had previously failed the exam.
In December, Hiroyuki Daida, the dean of Juntendo University’s medical school, attempted to justify the tampering of the exam system.
“Women mature faster mentally than men, and their communication ability is also higher,” he said at a news conference.
“In some ways, this was a measure to help male applicants.”
The university said it amended its unfair practices for this year’s exam and included female teachers to the teams that conducted interviews with the applicants.
News of the rigging sparked widespread anger across Japan last year after the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper revealed that Tokyo Medical University officials have rigged exam scores for more than a decade.
Last August, a panel of lawyers hired by the school to investigate the issue called it a “very serious” instance of discrimination.
“This incident is really regrettable – by deceptive recruitment procedures, they sought to delude the test takers, their families, school officials and society as a whole,” lawyer Kenji Nakai told a news conference.
Last year, the male pass rate was 1.93 times higher than the rate for females trying to enter Juntendo University’s medical school. This year, however, the women’s success rate was 1.07 times higher than that of male applications.
Gender discrimination has been a contentious issue in Japan for years.
In 2016, Japanese female doctors accounted for just 21.1 per cent (just 67,493) of all doctors in Japan – the lowest level among all OECD nations.
Earlier this month, Japan’s health and labour minister provoked controversy for saying it is “socially accepted” and “occupationally necessary” for women to be made to wear high heels at work.
His comments came after a recent campaign challenged the practice – with more than 19,000 people in Japan signing a petition to ban the requirement and several using the hashtag #KuToo in solidarity with the campaign.
The hashtag, which echoes the sentiment of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, is a play on the Japanese words for shoes “kutsu” and pain “kutsuu”.