The Telegraph, the British daily newspaper, reported yesterday that University of Oxford gave students extra time to complete their exams in mathematics and computer science in summer of 2017, in an effort to mitigate the achievement gap between men and women. “Female [degree] candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure,” explained the Board of Examiners.
What sort of message, I wonder, does this send to all the girls who aspire to become mathematicians, computer scientists, or other professionals in technical disciplines? That women cannot compete with men on a level playing field? That after decades of fighting for civil rights and gender equality it is time to cower behind a petticoat? What about the female surgeon, airline pilot, and firefighter — do they get a few extra minutes, too?
Who else is entitled to a tilt in their direction, now that we are in the business of equalizing outcomes? The New England Patriots have won their fair share of Superbowls, and so perhaps the Eagles should be allowed to field an additional player when they face off in the big game.
And what about those individuals who do not identify with the traditional binary gender classifications? Who on this Earth stands fit to decide the fair and proper time adjustments in their situation?
Oxford, ranked number 1 in the World University Rankings by the Times of London, has raised some truly vexing questions.