Men have got a problem when it comes to exam performance. It’s called women, who, across a range of countries and stages of education, are coming out on top in examination results. Clearly this hasn’t reversed millennia of patriarchy overnight, but it’s an important trend at a time when educational achievement has become more important in driving the jobs we do and the pay we earn.
Not to be outdone, it appears some men have a cunning plan to level things back up. Crucially, they’re doing so after they’ve left the exam hall. How? By doing a lot better out of the process of getting their exams re-graded. That’s the answer from new research digging into university exam results in Colorado. The research found that male university students were 18.6% more likely than female students to have their grades bumped up in a re-mark, even after accounting for differences in ability, teaching and subjects. Men, it turns out, are both more likely to request, and more willing to pay for, re-grades.
Why? The researchers find that almost half of this gap is down to differences between men and women around confidence and belief in their own ability, which shape whether we respond to disappointing results with outrage or self-criticism.
So it turns out it’s not what you know, it’s what you think you know. And whether you’ll pay to prove it.
• Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org