“Oxford University has decided to let students take a final exam at home — and they’ve switched it from a test to an essay — to help women do better on it, several newspapers in England report.
Apparently women do better at take-home style assignments while men, so-called risk takers, do better in the stressful test-classroom environments, so to close the achievement gap Oxford officials have decided to give women a home-court advantage.
“One of the university’s five final-year exams will be replaced by a paper that can be completed at home,” the Daily Mail reports. “Figures showed 32 per cent of women scored the highest grade in history at Oxford compared to 37 per cent for men.”
Feminists are not universally supporting the move. Historian Amanda Foreman, for example, called the decision “insulting.”
“You are saying that the girls can’t take the stress of sitting in the exam room, which does raise one’s anxiety levels. I don’t think girls are inherently weaker than boys and can’t take it.”
As a leading collegiate model, Oxford may be setting a new trend. However, if this trend is based on appeasing certain sections of students, it seems a poor way to reach a decision. It may also do little to close the achievement gap.
Though the addition of the essay test comes in the name of gender equality, the achievement gap could simply be the result of different learning styles and have little or nothing to do with biology.
According to Time, women surpassed men in the rate at which they earn degrees more than a decade ago. Is it possible that the reorganization of education in the manner demonstrated by Oxford may be contributing to the growing lead women currently have?
[Image credit: Flickr – College Degrees 360 | CC BY SA 2.0]