Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge sexism: men just care more about quizzes

Hannah Furness
The all-male final - PA

University Challenge is not sexist and is dominated by men because they simply like quizzes more, Jeremy Paxman has suggested. 

Paxman, the host of the BBC Two quiz, said the fact that more men that women took part in the show "must be a question of taste". 

Saying students themselves choose team members to represent their university, he added: " I suspect that — like football or darts — more males than females care about quizzing."

Jeremy Paxman, quizmaster

Paxman has previously raised the gender imbalance on the show himself, wondering on air during the 2015 semi-final: "Why on earth are there no women left in this stage of the competition?”

This series of the quiz show saw an all male final, with just one in five female contestants through whole 2017 competition. 

Writing in the Financial Times, Paxman said: "As for the testicle issue, since we know that intelligence is not determined by gender, it must be a question of taste. 

Eric Monkman, who became a household name this series

"The teams are not chosen by the college or university authorities but by the students themselves.

"The students are encouraged to enter teams which broadly reflect their institution.

"A growing number of applicants “prefer not to be gendered”.  

The host also tackled the question of whether the show is dumbing down to suit modern viewers. 

The allegation, he said, is "rubbish". 

Female contestants such as Emma Johnson have to endure constant online comment about their looks

"Television producers are forever dreaming up new formats, often with cash prizes attached, to prove you don’t need to be clever to be a winner.

"Their quizzes are almost always gimmicky, vulgar or stupid. 

"The questions on University Challenge, by contrast, have deliberately been made more difficult. 

"And the audience has risen. No one can prove cause and effect. 

"But it does demonstrate that television is not forced to treat the audience as morons to persuade them to watch."

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