TOKYO -- The ratios of women attending medical schools or working as medical doctors are on the rise in a number of countries including the United States, South Korea and those in Europe. In response to the sexual discrimination scandal against female applicants at Tokyo Medical University, the French Embassy in Tokyo tweeted to invite Japanese students to study in France, indicating a high percentage of women in higher medical and pharmaceutical education there.
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According to the website of the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, 63.8 percent of students in medical, dental and pharmaceutical departments from 2015 through 2016 were women, up 3.1 percentage points from 10 years ago.
The French government has been active in introducing laws supporting women who want to continue working after childbirth and their families. The European Union statistics for 2015 show that the ratio of French female doctors was 44.3 percent, lower than the EU average of 48.5 percent. But the percentage is rapidly growing, and there are more female doctors than their male counterparts among those in their 40s, according to a survey by the French doctors' council. As much as 60 percent of general practitioners aged 40 or younger are women.
In the United States, medical schools have about the same numbers of female and male students. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the percentage of women exceeded 40 percent in 1992, and reached 49.8 percent in 2003.
South Korea, where the ratio of female physicians stands at around 25 percent and is as low as that in Japan, has recently seen a surge in the number of women in medical schools and passing the national medical examination.
According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper, an analysis of data from medical schools found that in 1993, 17 percent of students at the Seoul University medical school were women. The figure more than doubled to 38 percent in 2013. About the same number of male and female freshman students attended the school from 2014. A medical industry publication said female applicants passing the national medical exam reached 39.1 percent of the total in 2016, up more than 6 points from 32.8 percent in 2012.
Dr. Shin Hyun-young, a female doctor at Myongji Hospital in South Korea and a senior member of the Korean Medical Women's Association, said the field of medicine has one of the smallest percentage of female workers compared to other areas, but she was surprised about what happened at Tokyo Medical University. "We don't discriminate against women in tests when applicants' performance is judged based on their scores, which is an objective criterion." The doctor added that women doctors are working under tough conditions like their Japanese counterparts. "A fundamental improvement in the working environment is a must to have more female doctors," she said.
(Japanese original by Masahiro Nakai, Foreign News Department, Kosuke Hatta, Brussels Bureau, and Akiko Horiyama, Seoul Bureau)
This is the third and final part of a series.