In a bid to help girls get First Class degrees, Oxford University has replaced a final year history exam with a paper that students can complete at home.
The new “takeaway” measures, which will be introduced at the start of the forthcoming academic year, were introduced after statistics showed that 32 per cent of women achieved a first in history at Oxford, compared with 37 per cent of men.
This latest step in the meddlesome bureaucracy that is becoming higher education is incredibly patronising to women. The idea that girls – who are more likely than boys to go to university, do better in their GCSEs, and achieve higher grades in their A-Levels – need special measures to improve academically is nonsense.
These infantilising special protections prove that we have once again begun to see everything through a narrow lens of gender.
UK news in pictures
UK news in pictures
1/17 22 June 2017
Cosplay fans (L-R) George Massingham, Abbey Forbes and Karolina Goralik travel by tube dressed in Harry Potter themed costumes, after a visit to one the literary franchise's movie filming locations at Leadenhall Market in London, Britain
2/17 22 June 2017
Racegoers cheer on their horse on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London
3/17 21 June 2017
A reveller walks among the tipi tents at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England
4/17 20 June 2017
A police officer lays some flowers passed over by a member of the public, close to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, after one man died and eight people were taken to hospital and a person arrested after a rental van struck pedestrian
The Borough Market bell is seen in Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
Two women embrace in Borough Market, which officially re-opens today following the recent attack, in central London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the re-opening of Borough market in central London following the June 3 terror attack
People walk through Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, with one of his daughters, visit Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack
A woman reacts in front of a wall of messages in Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack, in central London
Vivenne Westwood walks the runway at the Vivenne Westwood show during the London Fashion Week Men's June 2017 collections
Millwall fan and London Bridge hero Roy Larner on 'Good Morning Britain'
Richard Arnold, Roy Larner, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on 'Good Morning Britain'
14/17 11 June 2017
England players celebrate after defeating Venezuela 1-0 to win the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017 at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
15/17 11 June 2017
England players celebrate with the trophy after the final match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 between Venezuela and England at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
16/17 11 June 2017
Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee celebrates winning the Elite Men Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds
Danny Lawson/PA Wire
17/17 11 June 2017
Two men drink beer outside the Southwark Tavern which reopened for business today next to an entrance to Borough Market which remains closed in London
These were social attitudes – particularly in the stuffy, male-only world of education – we managed to shake off decades ago. When feminists in the 1960s took on the paternalistic structures of their universities (who told them not to read certain books and not to wear mini-skirts), they were demanding freedom; today, we are given extra protection.
The sole purpose of feminism is to demand women are treated equally across all boards within society – that includes when sitting an exam. So what if five per cent more male history students at one university are able to do better? This does not reflect a gender injustice, but an insignificant drop in the ocean of reality.
The idea that women need a special leg up – because they are apparently incapable of getting there themselves – is not only insulting, but we have proven how unnecessary an attitude like this is. Nearly three quarters of women who graduated last summer had found full or part-time jobs within six months of leaving university, compared to just 71 per cent of men.
If current trends continue, a baby girl born in 2016 will be 75 per cent more likely to go to university than a boy. These are incredibly positive achievements.
Statistics aside, young women don’t want to be treated like delicate flowers in a world of rigorous academic discourse. We, just like boys, go to University to engage in new and challenging ideas and learn skills along the way.
Rather than trusting women to get high grades of their own accord, Oxford University’s Victorian decision is grounded in the outdated idea that women are less capable in the classroom, and not cut out for the serious world of academia.
This goes against the tide of progressive gender equality we have seen develop over the past few decades, where women have demanded to be treated exactly the same as men – in the classroom and beyond.
In 1869, Emily Davies founded Girton College at the University of Cambridge. It was the first residential college in England where women could take the same courses and exams as men. Davies, a tireless campaigner for women’s right to an education, rejected any idea of a special system or curriculum for women. To those who resisted her push for women in higher education, “different” meant inferior. For many years, her mantra has contributed to a healthy climate within our Universities. We mustn’t forget it.
Women don't need cups of tea, biscuits and other home comforts to get a First Class degree. Just leave us to our books and we’ll do just fine.Reuse content