Cambridge Tells Professors to Not Use ‘Genius’ Because Word Is Associated with Men
Instructors at Cambridge University are told to avoid using words such as “genius,” “flair,” and “brilliance” because of the alleged association those terms have with men.
History lecturer Lucy Delap of Cambridge University claims that instructors are told to avoid using such words because they “carry assumptions of gender inequality.” She went on to suggest that the reason why men earn more first-class degrees at Oxford and Cambridge is because women struggle with the “male-dominated environment.”
However, this isn’t the case in the United States. There are over three million more women than men enrolled in degree-granting programs in the United States as of 2017. Current projections suggest that this gap will only increase in favor of women over the next decade.
“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”.
Delap added that the push towards a more gender-inclusive academic environment extends beyond language-policing. The Cambridge history department is rewriting the curriculum to create a “wider set of paper choices” and to ensure that all language that can be considered specific to a gender, class, or ethnicity will be erased.
“We want to use language that is transparent,” Delap added. “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.”
Oxford University announced last week that they will have students to take one of their scheduled exams at home rather than on campus. The initiative was introduced “to boost results for female students at the top-ranking institution, who are statistically less likely to graduate with a first-class degree in the subject than their male peers.”
Amanda Foreman, an honorary research senior fellow in history at the University of Liverpool, claimed that the initiative was deeply insulting to females, who she believes are just as capable of performing well on exams administered on campus.
“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,” Foreman said.