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- Oxford University added 15 extra minutes to maths and computer science exams.
- Adjudicators thought female students were “more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
- The university said women have performed better since the change last year.
The University of Oxford has added extra time to maths and computer science exams because female students aren’t performing as well as their male counterparts.
Students sitting maths and computer science exams last summer were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers because “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure,” according to a decision seen by The Daily Telegraph.
The number of male students achieving first-class degrees was double that of women before the change was made, the Telegraph reported. As a result, the department changed the goal posts in an attempt to help female students achieve better grades.
But while the change was implemented in order to help more women achieve first-class degrees, the added time simply helped more female students achieve 2:1 grades overall, with fewer women securing a lower class 2:2, according to the Telegraph.
Antonia Sir, an undergraduate representative of Oxford Women in Computer Science, told the Telegraph: “I am uneasy about schemes to favour 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 leave behind.”
An Oxford University spokesman told Business Insider:
“As part of an ongoing review of our examination process, the Mathematical Institute in Oxford decided to extend its 90-minute examinations to 105 minutes for all students.
“We believe that this extra time allows us to better determine which students have gained the fullest understanding of the course material, in a way which remains academically demanding and fair.
“We are encouraged to note that following these changes, women have performed better in our examinations. However, it is too soon to draw firm conclusions from this evidence.”