University Challenge – Britain’s best quiz show – is making its questions “gender neutral” to encourage more women to participate.
If you believe the show’s executive producer Peter Gwyn, this is a jolly good thing:
“Perhaps ‘gender-neutrality’ is what we aim for,” Mr Gwyn said. “We try to ensure that when hearing a question, we don’t have any sense of whether it was written by a man or a woman, just as questions should never sound as if they are directed more at men than women.
“We believe very strongly that the more representative, inclusive and diverse we can make the programme, the better and more interesting it will be.”
No it won’t make the programme better and more interesting. It’s a disaster.
We’ve already had a taste of this in the increasing preponderance of boring questions about obscure also-rans from history who have only made the cut by dint of the fact that they’ll help fill the programme’s gender quota. “Which composer of Fantasia on Crochet, rated by JS Bach as the third most-talented lutanist in Leipzig, first made her name…”
Yawn. No one cares. No one’s interested. There are only so many questions you can ask about famous people where the answer is Marie Curie – so let’s move on and accept the fact that almost everything notable in history that was done in science, literature, politics, war, religion or any other field was done by men.
And the same goes for general knowledge quiz teams. Sure it may be the case that the first winner of the top prize on the quiz Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was the fragrant, supremely knowledgeable and undoubtedly female Judith Keppel. Sure some of the sparkiest, cleverest captains on winning teams in University Challenge – Gail Trimble, for example – were women who weren’t just there for decoration and who really pulled their weight.
Nonetheless, these women are the exception rather than the rule.
And this isn’t a sexism thing or a barriers-to-entry thing.
It’s a basic human nature thing.
Boys love to collect obscure facts; girls, as a rule, don’t.
You’re not going to change this basic biological fact simply by phrasing questions in a different way or including more questions about women no one has heard of.
In the unlikely event that more women are lured into participating in University Challenge – all that will happen (unless, perhaps, they are all freakish outliers with unusually male brains) is that the teams they’re on will get thrashed by the male-dominated ones. This isn’t just because men – quizzers especially – tend to be further along the autistic spectrum than women, but also because being more aggressive and, yes, competitive they’re likely to get to the buzzer that fraction of a second quicker.
Meanwhile, another institution gets taken over by “progressives” and subverted for their peculiar political ends. The show will get duller; fewer people will watch; gradually it will fade into irrelevance.
This is how Social Justice Warriors will destroy our world – not with a bang but with death by a thousand cuts.