Stereotype threat, the supposedly pervasive notion that women are inherently inferior to men, acts to inhibit women, is deemed to be a primary cause of women failing to achieve at the same level as men in certain fields. Thus a special dispensation for women:
Oxford University exam times were increased in a bid to improve the low scores of women, it has emerged.
Students taking maths and computer science examinations in the summer of 2017 were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers, after dons ruled that “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure”. There was no change to the length or difficulty of the questions.
It was the first time such steps had been taken. In previous years, the percentage of male students awarded first class degrees was double that of women and in 2016 the board of examiners suggested that the department make changes to improve women’s grades.
The results of the anti-male bias:
Men continued to be awarded more first class degrees than women in the two subjects.
A university spokesman defended the changes as “academically demanding and fair”, and noted that while 39 per cent of female mathematicians achieved first class degrees compared to 47 per cent of men, women’s scores had improved year on year.
As it turns out, women overachieve when competing against men:
Stereotype threat has been offered as a potential explanation of differential performance between men and women in some cognitive domains. Questions remain about the reliability and generality of the phenomenon. Previous studies have found that stereotype threat is activated in female chess players when they are matched against male players. I used data from over 5.5 million games of international tournament chess and found no evidence of a stereotype-threat effect. In fact, female players outperform expectations when playing men. Further analysis showed no influence of degree of challenge, player age, nor prevalence of female role models in national chess leagues on differences in performance when women play men versus when they play women. Though this analysis contradicts one specific mechanism of influence of gender stereotypes, the persistent differences between male and female players suggest that systematic factors do exist and remain to be uncovered.
The bottom line: men and women are different.