Tokyo Medical University were embroiled in a scandal earlier this year when they were discovered to be systematically changing grades in their entrance exams. Female applicants automatically had points knocked off their grade regardless of their score, in order to keep female students at the university down to no more than 30% of the student body.

Many talented young women studied for and sat the test only to have their ambitions secretly unfairly dashed by the sexist institution. They believed men would make more valuable doctors since women would leave the profession to raise children.

The public outcry triggered investigations into other Japanese medical schools, stoking suspicions that this is not an isolated incident but a nationwide problem.

Amid the controversy, the French Embassy in Japan tweeted a piece of information they believed would be of interest to any prospective female doctors in Japan, who may feel their talents are going underappreciated in their home country.

This graph shows that the rate of female students studying medicine, dentistry or pharmaceuticals (outlined in red rectangle) in France has been rising over the years from 57.7% for the 2000-2001 school year, to 64.1% for 2016-2017. Not only are the female medical students higher in number than the males, but the amount has increased significantly in just six years, seemingly proving that French institutions have no misgivings at all about taking on female students.

Attached to the graph was a half-joking invitation to Japanese students to come study abroad in France:

A bit of info for today! The rate of female students studying medicine at French universities rose from 57.7% in 2000 to 64.1% in 2016. It seems that by 2021 we should see gender parity for doctors. Everyone, please come study in France!

The embassy even cheekily used the hashtag Tokyo Medical University, just in case it wasn’t clear what they were referencing.

The replies to the tweet are, naturally, full of mixed reactions. Some Japanese people were offended that the French embassy would use the scandal to promote their own country. Some others spoke about the practicalities of being a foreign student in France. Trials including learning a whole other language and maybe dealing with racism, suggest that studying medicine in France wouldn’t be some catch-all solution for Japan’s future female doctors.

But many others agreed wholeheartedly with the French embassy's tweet. Rather than literally saying anyone can study abroad in France, many took it as simply promoting the idea that there are alternatives for female students who feel sidelined. At the very least, the embassy got the message out that Japan can do better when it comes to equality, and if they still won’t appreciate the talents of the country’s young women, there’s other countries that will.

By - Jess.