8th August 2018
Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women
Representative Director Takako Tsuda
The Japan Joint Association of Medical Professional Women (JAMP) believes that increasing the proportion of women in decision-making positions in the medical community will create an environment in which female medical personnel will be able to work to their full potential. We expected that this would occur as the proportion of women in the medical field increased. 15 years ago, as the percentage of women in the National Examination for Medical Practitioners was gradually increasing, it was expected that the number of female doctors would increase to approximately 50%. However, the proportion of women has not increased.
We have been searching for factors that impede women's participation in the medical field. One factor is "gender difference of the pass rate of the Medical School Entrance Exam". In August and September, 2017, we posted an analysis of the ratio of the male/female pass rates in college (including medical universities) entrance examinations and the National Examination for Medical Practitioners, with a discussion by Kyoko Tanebe, a member of the JAMP board of directors, as a topic of JAMP: "A Glass Ceiling Impedes Women Doctors". In this analysis, she suggested the possibility that the entrance of women into the medical field is restricted at the time of admission to medical schools. The recently uncovered manipulation of female candidate scores in the General Entrance Examination for the Department of Medicine, Tokyo Medical University School of Medicine, reported in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on August 2, 2018, regrettably corroborates the analysis we posted last year.
We feel strong resentment against this arbitrary discrimination against women. The manipulation of the test scores of women by Tokyo Medical University is an undeniable infringement of the right to be educated and the right to be equal under the law irrespective of gender. Not only is crushing the dreams of qualified young women morally reprehensible, it will also result in turning many talented young women away from the medical profession.
We have been interviewed by many media, but JAMP is concerned that focusing only on gender inequality will not lead to needed reforms directed at the essence of the problems of the medical system. JAMP advocates the following two points as important for promoting the success of female medical personnel and for medical safety in Japan.
1) Reform conditions that are based on overworking/sacrifice of doctors.
2) Promotion of diversity and eradication of gender inequality.
1) Reform conditions that are based on overworking/sacrifice of doctors:
Doctor shortage and overwork are severe, and many doctors are compromising their health by working dangerously long hours. It is a fact that the burden on other doctors increases when someone needs to take time off from work because of childcare or nursing care obligations. In addition, unpaid work to attend to sudden calls and emergency responses supports the health system without increasing the medical expenses of this country. Consequently, dissatisfaction with their female colleagues can lead to female doctors being devalued, a decrease in the number of female doctors, and ultimately a declining labor force, and it was also used as a reason for the manipulation of women's entrance examination test scores by Tokyo Medical University. Therefore, we must promote reforms directed toward overwork and unpaid labor without neglecting the quality of work or the life obligations of female doctors. We are promoting a national debate on the form of medical treatment in this country and are in the process of seeking profound reforms of the healthcare system.
2) Promotion of diversity and eradication of gender inequality:
Entrance restrictions on women are regarded by some as a necessary evil to lower absenteeism due to pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing, but the right to receive an education is guaranteed by the Constitution regardless of gender. Restricting enrollment on account of being a woman is a serious human rights violation.
Also, in order to promote diversity, it is necessary to eradicate the sexual harassment which is embedded in many organizations. Sexual harassment is encountered by many female medical students and doctors, and this must be thoroughly eradicated; both harassment itself and the concept that it is acceptable.
The viewpoint of female doctors is that diversity both fills in existing gaps in medical care and also leads to overall improvement of medical safety and medical quality. We believe that it is desirable that women constitute about half of the decision making positions of the various organizations in the medical community (universities, hospitals, academies, etc.).The prime commitment is not just "gender equality" but to ensure that the organization as a whole is committed to the idea that a woman's input is valuable. We believe that it is necessary to disclose and verify the method of selecting the members of decision-making bodies in universities and academic societies and to be able to evaluate their decisions.