Oxford University is giving extra time to women in order to enhance the low scores of women. In the summers of 2017, students who are taking maths and computer science were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their exams. Recently a report came that stated that “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure.” Apart from extra time, there were no changes made in the difficulty and length of the question. This is the first time these steps have been taken.
Last year, the percentage of male students who were awarded first-class degrees was double than the number of women. In the year 2016, the examining board suggested that the department should make appropriate changes to improve the grades of their female students.
However, despite the intention to decrease the gender discrimination, the main effect of the time increase appears to have increased the number of 2:1s overall, while the 2:2 figures falling. Despite the advantage of getting extra time to finish the exam, men are still getting more first-class degrees than women in the two subjects.
The spokesman for the university defended the changes by saying “academically demanding and fair.” He also said that the percentage of female mathematicians who achieved first class has increased to 39% as compared to the 47% of men. He said that the women’s scores had improved as compared to the previous years.
The increase in the time for exams was welcomed by the female students of the university. Antonia Siu, the Undergraduate Representative of Oxford Women in Computer Science said, “I am uneasy about schemes to favor one gender over another. 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.”