Oxford’s Director of Mansplaining: Girls Are Too Risk-Averse on Exams

Illustration for article titled Oxford’s Director of Mansplaining: Girls Are Too Risk-Averse on Exams

Making gross generalizations is usually a recipe for disaster, and though you might think that the director of admissions at Oxford University might know better than to make some broad, sweeping pronouncement about how girls’ guts are way more indecisive than boys’ guts, you’d be wrong, prey to the very same sort of generalizing about how people at vaulted academic institutions like Oxford should know better than to casually expound sexist ideas.


Answering a question about the difference between male and female students’ performance on exams, Mike Nicholson, director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford University recently told the Telegraph that male students are a little better than girls at making the from-your-gut decisions everyone knows to be the cornerstone of good academic thought. He explained,

We have generally seen male students tend to be much more prepared to take risks, which is why they do well in exams.

Generally, female students are risk-averse, and will tend to take longer to think about an answer. If it’s a multiple-choice question, male students will generally go with their gut feeling. Girls will try and reason it out...

Obviously, if you are using timed multiple-choice assessments, that has a bearing on the likelihood of the female students even finishing the section, when the boys have whizzed through it.

Of course, the Telegraph infers that Nicholson is really referring to a gender performance gap on science exams, because science exams have definitively right and wrong answers. Boys will generally let that nucleotide ride, you know? Fuck it! Shoot from the hip, just like Blaise Pascal. This is how great things are accomplished. Maybe if Marie Curie hadn’t been so careful and cautious about radiation poisoning, she’d have made more headway with her research on radioactivity. Oh, wait...


Image via Creativa/ Shutterstock.


Sea Anemone

This difference in male and female test taking approaches* has been well known for many years now, at least on standardized tests. It's not really a mansplanation when it's accurate.

*and remember kids, statements about populations refer to overall trends! they do not mean that every member of that population does things the same way and no other way!