Oxford University plans to change its final exam policy in 2018 to help female students score better on their history exams.
The college’s History Faculty will make one of its five final exams a take home paper in order to boost female performance on exams after a study revealed that men are more likely to get a first class degree in history than women, the Telegraph reported Sunday.
Thirty-two percent of women will go on to gain a first class degree, compared to 37 percent of men who will do the same, the study showed.
“This course in particular showed one of the largest gender gaps in results between women and men,” a document said regarding the gender gap in Oxford’s History program. “As women and men perform more equally in submitted work, it was proposed that a take-out exam with questions similar to that in a timed exam should be implemented.”
Some have accused the university of insulting women by making the standards lower to accommodate them.
“I think it is extremely well intentioned and I applaud them for taking the matter seriously. But it is so insulting,” historian Amanda Foreman said. “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. Women are not the weaker sex.”
Oxford University stood by its decision, saying that the gender gap between scores played only a small part in its choice to change the final exam policy.
“This change is part of a broader goal of diversifying the History course in response to a number of factors, including the need to test a greater range of academic skills. The gender gap was also a consideration in this change, although research shows that the causes of the gap are broad do not lie solely in methods of assessment,” the school said in a statement.
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