News and Commentary

EQUALITY! Oxford Extends Math And Science Exam Times To Diminish Gender Gap

Oxford University was apparently troubled that men were outperforming women on math and computer science exams, so they decided to allow extra testing time in an attempt to alleviate the gender gap since “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure.”

In other words, Oxford lowered standards on their tests, making them easier to pass, with the hope of improving women’s test scores and achieving “true equality.”

The Telegraph reports:

Students taking maths and computer science examinations in the summer of 2017 were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers, after dons ruled that “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure”. There was no change to the length or difficulty of the questions.

It was the first time such steps had been taken. In previous years, the percentage of male students awarded first class degrees was double that of women and in 2016 the board of examiners suggested that the department make changes to improve women’s grades.

It turns out that the move to rid the science and math gender gap didn’t pan out the way Oxford might have hoped. “Despite the intention being to lessen gender discrepancies, the main effect of the time increase appears to have been an increase in the number of 2:1s overall, with 2:2 figures falling. Men continued to be awarded more first class degrees than women in the two subjects,” notes The Telegraph.

Oxford is standing by their decision to adjust testing times; a university spokesman called the change “academically demanding and fair.”

Antonia Siu, a female undergraduate representative of Oxford Women in computer science, told The Telegraph she was “uneasy about schemes to favour one gender over another,” but said she is “happy when people see gaps between groups of people who should not reasonably have such gaps — such as between genders, races or class — and take that as a starting point to think about the kinds of people they unintentionally are leaving behind.”