Tokyo Medical University officials systemically reduced the entrance exam scores of female applicants, apparently feeling that women are not dependable enough to become doctors, sources said.

The rigging of the exam scores has continued since at least 2010 in an organized attempt to keep the ratio of female students at the university below 30 percent for any given year, they said.

One source explained the reasoning behind the secret penalizing of the female applicants.

“Many female students who graduate end up leaving the actual medical practice to give birth and raise children,” the source said. “There was a silent understanding (to accept more male students) as one way to resolve the doctor shortage.”

The institution is already under investigation over allegations it provided an exam-related favor to the son of a former high-ranking education ministry official.

The percentage of female applicants who actually entered the university was much lower than the ratio of those who took the exam.

Applicants who record a passing score in the written exam stage can proceed to the second stage, which involves an interview and a short essay.

In explaining the entrance exam procedure to prospective applicants, Tokyo Medical University did not mention any gender quota for acceptance.

According to university sources, a specific coefficient was used to automatically reduce the exam scores of all female applicants.

For this year’s entrance exam in February, 2,614 applicants took the written exam, and 39 percent of them were women.

Female applicants accounted for 33 percent of those who passed the written exam. But the ratio dropped to 18 percent among those who passed the final stage.

Only 30 women were accepted by the university, compared with 141 men.

The move to reduce the number of female students started in 2010, when about 40 percent of the successful applicants were women, a sharp increase from the previous year.

One high-ranking university official said such across-the-board rigging of exam scores was unforgivable, although men had previously been given preference over women if they had the same score.

A university official said an internal investigation was being conducted, and the results would be announced.

An education ministry official in charge of the matter said universities are allowed to adjust the gender ratio as long as they clearly state such quotas when announcing plans for accepting new students.

But since Tokyo Medical University made no such announcement, its adjustments were a problem, the official said.

Masahiko Usui, the former chairman of the Board of Regents of Tokyo Medical University, and Mamoru Suzuki, the former university president, have been indicted on charges of bribing Futoshi Sano, a former high-ranking education ministry official, in exchange for preferential treatment in a ministry-administered subsidy program.

The bribe was made in the form of inflating the entrance exam score of Sano’s son to allow his entry into the university.

The university plans to release the results of its investigation into this case as early as next week.