Amber Randall, DCNF
University of Cambridge history tutors have been told to refrain from using the word “genius” in class because it’s offensive towards women.
The department plans to re-write the first two years of its History degree to weed out “sexists terms” like “genius,” “brilliance” and “flair,” reports the Telegraph.
“We want to use language that is transparent,” Dr. Lucy Delap, a British history lecturer, said. “We’re rewriting our first two years of our History degree to create a wider set of paper choices, to make assessment criteria clearer, and to really try and root out the unhelpful and very vague talk of ‘genius,’ of ‘brilliance,’ of ‘flair’ which carries assumptions of gender inequality and also of class and ethnicity.”
Delap explained that since terms like “brilliance,” “genius,” and “flair” have too often been used to describe men, tutors should not use them anymore. Women may have difficulty thinking that they are “brilliant” because the word has historically been associated with men, Delap claimed.
“Some of those words, in particular genius, have a very long intellectual history where it has long been associated with qualities culturally assumed to be male,” Delap said. “Some women are fine with that, but others might find it hard to see themselves in those categories.”
Oxford University’s History department recently revamped its final exam policy after a study showed that men are more likely to get a first class degree in history than women. One of the department’s five final exams will be a take home exam in order to boost female performance.
Some have criticized accused Oxford of playing into the stereotype that women are the weaker sex.
“I think it is extremely well intentioned and I applaud them for taking the matter seriously. But it is so insulting,” historian Amanda Foreman said. “You are saying that the girls can’t take the stress of sitting in the exam room, which does raise one’s anxiety levels. I don’t think girls are inherently weaker than boys and can’t take it. Women are not the weaker sex.”
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