Oxford University extends time for maths to help women students fetch better marks

Oxford hopes to remedy time pressure that impacts women during exams

Oxford University graduation ceremony
Graduates gather outside the Sheldonian Theatre after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, in Oxford, Britain July 15, 2017 REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In a bid to help women students get better grades, Oxford University has extended the time for mathematics and computer science exams. Undergraduate girls were given 105 minutes to complete the exams, while boys were given 90 minutes to do the same. The question paper's nature and the difficulty of the questions were not altered. This helped the female students perform better this year.

Keeping in mind last year's performance where only seven women students achieved firsts compared to 45 men, the University took up this move. Oxford University states that the effect of time management during exams is more on women when compared to male candidates and the only way to counter this is by extending the exam time.

Even though the move has been widely accepted by women students in the University, a group of critics called this initiative 'sexist'. According to the critics, extending the examination time only for women basically accentuates the idea that they are the weaker ones.

Oxford University revealed that they will monitor the examination data carefully. The University spokesperson said that the departments are not drawing any kind of conclusions from the first year result.

"However, third-year female students did show an improvement in their second-year marks. While there is clearly more progress to be made, the departments will continue with the longer papers for the foreseeable future, monitoring the exam data carefully," said the spokesperson.

Experts claim that there are no gender differences when it comes to mathematical ability. Sarah Hart, a mathematics professor at the Birbeck University of London said women students used to double check the answer before suggesting them, and this is the reason behind the delay.

On the contrary, male students are quicker in answering the questions, but the chances of them committing an error are also very high when compared to the female candidates, she said, reports Daily Mail.