Battle of sexes as medical test ‘excludes clever young women’

Ireland“A new row erupted last night over the aptitude test for students wishing to study medicine, as leading university figures were accused of discriminating against bright young women. The Health Professions Aptitude Test (HPAT) is credited with increasing the proportion of males offered places in medicine courses – from 42pc to 48pc this year. Several senior male academics welcomed the reduction in the number of girls getting into medical school, claiming gender balance has been restored …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 20 August]

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One Response to “Battle of sexes as medical test ‘excludes clever young women’”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    This topic seems set to generate a lot of heat & a lot of daft comments. For some reason ( & its not really understood why) girls do a lot better at the Leaving (LC); similar patterns occur in many other countries. When you reduce the weighting on the LC by introducing the HPAT it turns out that guys do a little better than otherwise. This is not automatic: a student who does well at one will probably do well at the other. So is the new system biased in favour of boys? Well if the old system was perfect then yes it must be. But we don’t know that it was. In fact the logic for introducing HPAT was the feeling that there was an over-reliance on the LC. Would it have been ok if the proportion of girls rose? Probably not. So does the new system have the maintain the old proportion which, somehow magically, was correct?
    Somebody, Mary Henry I think, claimed that HPAT was biased against girls because many didn’t have access to higher level maths? This is higher level LC maths?? Well wouldn’t that bias a system entirely dependent on the LC even more? D’oh.
    Some bright spark commented that HPAT was biased towards the rich because they would pay for grinds. Quite possibly but again: how does this compare with the LC?
    A lot of the comment seems to center around the possibility that some very clever girls won’t get into medicine than would otherwise. This is defining cleverness by LC points. But if we define it by HPAT (or HPAT + LC) then there is no unfairness. So the outrage is based on a tautology.
    Surely the key questions are : do we have a system which produces good doctors? and Is there any reason to believe that a student with 570 LC points will be a better doctor than one with say 500? I doubt it.

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