X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

Why do boys outperform girls at university?

28 April 2014

9:02 AM

28 April 2014

9:02 AM

According to the university’s own statistics, Oxford is one of the worst places in the country to be a female student if you’re hoping for a First Class degree.

In all three of Oxford’s academic divisions, men were more likely to get a First in 2013 than women: there was a gender gap of 5% in the humanities, 10% in mathematical, physical and life sciences and 8% in medical sciences. As a Historian, I’m 10% less likely to get a First than one of my male counterparts.

Nationally, there’s virtually no discrepancy at all – in 2013, 18.3% of women got Firsts compared to 18.5% of men. But it’s odd that there’s any male bias at all, since girls have long been getting more top grades at A-Level.

[Alt-Text]


What it is about university that suits boys better? At school you get an A grade by diligently slogging through the text books and regurgitating the contents. I can’t speak for the scientists, but the best humanities degrees are won through flair. It’s not that girls can’t muster any, but we’re often scared to risk letting it show – at least if you stick to established ideas and facts, you’re guaranteed a pass. We girls are more inclined to deliberate than judge, but boys let their affinity for risk-taking lead them to the brash theories examiners love.

If this poses a problem for female students at all universities, it’s far more pronounced at Oxford. Our Student Union women’s representative, Sarah Pine, is right in saying that: ‘The structure of an Oxford education is thoroughly masculine: combative, rather than co-operative behaviours are valued in tutorials.’ You get so much more out of a tutorial if you disagree with your tutor, and do so much better in exams if you dare to be interesting.

When your exam essay is going to be marked by the people who wrote the books you’re quoting, the female tendency to be cautious often wins out. It’s a tendency, after all, that’s been positively encouraged in many girls’ previous educational experiences: at my all-girls school, we had lots of feminist assemblies and absolutely no debating competitions.

An Oxford education is dynamic, rather than nurturing. To do well here, you can’t just be clever – you have to be plucky too. The tutorial system is fantastic, but it can take young women a little getting used to.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close