“Genius,” “flair,” and “brilliance.”
I wish I were joking.
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.