Oxford University let women have extra time on their summer 2017 exams in an effort to raise text scores in math and science fields.
Women taking these exams received an extra 15 minutes to complete their tests, despite the fact that no changes were made to adjust the difficulty level of the questions or number of questions that were on the test, according to the Telegraph. The policy change came after school officials decided that women were more adversely affected by time constraints than men, based on their own conjectures rather than any recent studies which have reported such results.
In fact, men and women perform equally well on high-time-pressure math tests according to a Harvard study on gender differences in output quality and quantity under pressure. Women also significantly outperform men in low-time-pressure verbal tasks.
An Oxford university spokesman maintained however, that allowing women more time on math and science exams is “academically demanding and fair” because 39 percent of women earn what are known as “first class degrees” in math, while 47 percent of men do so.
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While some female students are upset over the insinuation that women are not as academically capable as men, other students are quite happy that they’ll now get extra time to improve their scores.
“I am uneasy about schemes to favour one gender over another,” Oxford undergraduate student Antonia Siu told the Telegraph. “But I am 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.”
The extra allotted time for female test takers comes after the university’s board of examiners suggested that the Math and Science departments do something to equalize the results of male and female test takers.
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