Intended for healthcare professionals


Discrimination against women in medicine: lessons from Tokyo

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 03 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3685
  1. Kate F Lovett, dean1,
  2. David A Ross, associate professor of psychiatry2
  1. 1Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK
  2. 2Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to: K F Lovett kate.lovett{at}

The international medical community must look for and reverse all workforce inequalities

The recent revelation that a Tokyo medical school reduced the scores of women applicants over a period of at least 12 years, to cap female entrants at 30%, has given both Japan and the international medical community much to reflect on.1

The scandal was uncovered after a separate investigation into an allegation of nepotism and bribery.2 The Japanese education ministry has asked its 81 other medical schools to examine their admission processes3 to ascertain whether this was an isolated case, after confirmation that the Tokyo Medical University adopted a deliberate policy to exclude women. The reduction of female applicants’ scores by 20% resulted in men being three times more likely to be admitted.3

Japan has had equal opportunity legislation since 1972. Improving opportunities for women within the workplace is a government priority. But the data on women in medicine in Japan, even …

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