History examiners told not to use the word ‘genius’ as it is associated with men

The statement follows news of radical History Faculty reform

Examiners are being instructed to reduce their use of words like ‘genius’, ‘flair’ and ‘brilliance’ when marking students because of their historical association with men.

Lucy Delap, a British History lecturer has revealed that History Faculty members are told to avoid use of such words because they “carry assumptions of gender inequality” and, as such, female students were less likely to identify with the terms.

Speaking on the Today programme, the gender history specialist said:

“Students who’re arriving at an Oxbridge college can still find it a bit of a male-dominated environment.

“If you look at just something as simple as the art on the walls of a college, they’re often by men and they depict men and often they’re white men as well.”

The Cambridge History Faculty

“We think that a more plural environment would encourage a wider range of people being able to imagine themselves as powerful figures, as success stories, as excelling in academic terms.”

“We would very much like to see reading lists transformed so that they reflect more female historians, we would like to see more opportunities to study women’s history,” said Dr Delap.

“We want women to be able to imagine themselves as excelling and owning that space and create an environment that empowers women to succeed.

“We’re rewriting the first two years of our history degree to create a wider set of paper choices, to make assessment criteria clearer, to really root out the unhelpful and very vague talk of genius, of brilliance, of flair which carry assumptions of gender inequality and also of class and ethnicity inequalities.”

This statement follows news broken by The Tab that the History Faculty is planning an “the most extensive reform of [its] undergraduate curriculum for more than half a century.”

History at Cambridge shows a huge gender attainment gap, with 31 per cent of women achieving firsts compared to 39 per cent of men in 2016.

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