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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys...As Girls Race Past Them In the Classroom

Below is an article I wrote in March, 2004.  Nothing really has changed.  If anything, it's become worse.  Read on and, if it sparks an interest, then read three articles on this issue that appear below and watch a brief video that speaks to it as well.

If the pursuit of academic achievement in high school were viewed as something resembling a long-distance road race, girls would be out-pacing boys at a considerable rate.  And the latter would be losing ground as more distance was covered.  At least that is what mounting evidence is revealing.  What this means down the road, as experts debate the issue, could have sociological and economic ramifications.

It has been known for years that girls in general outperform boys in the elementary school classroom, and that a gap in achievement usually diminishes by the time they move through middle school.  What has the experts scratching their heads lately has been the sustainability of this achievement gap well into the high school years.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SRED), a consortium of 16 states committed to improving education, recently conducted a survey that revealed surprising information.  Among the 40,000 males and female students polled in over 1000 high schools, all of whom were considered typical in that they were neither stellar performers nor slackers, boys clearly placed less value in school than did girls.  Whereas 84% of females surveyed reported that it was important to pursue higher education beyond high school, only 67% of the males felt similarly.  This bears out in the data released by the U.S. Department of Education - at the end of the last decade, 133 women received bachelor's degrees for every 100 men, and the former is expected to rise to 142 by 2010.  Moreover, 70% of these "average" girls surveyed by SRED see a direct relationship between school success and achievement of life goals while 57% of the boys hold to the same view.

Skeptics might point to verbal aptitude as a function of gender and that that these differences might reverse themselves in the quantitiative domain. Well, the data doesn't support this notion.  Across just about every measure, girls are outperforming boys.  Why?  Would anyone like to offer an explanation that appears to be perplexing to the experts?

Of course, what happens in the employment world, understandably, is another story, and perhaps for another time.  But, for school, falling back on the argument that "boys will be boys" is falling down in the face of a growing problem.

Fast forwarding to 2011, the rate of matriculation to college by gender is at about 57% for females and 43% for males.




Be sure to read the comments left by readers of these articles.  And feel free to post your own comments here.

 Look under Short Videos to the right - "Where Have the Good Men Gone?

1 comment:

  1. I believe it comes down to expectations, familial support and good mentors. We expect girls to succeed and meet their and our expectations. If girls don't have one of the above, they won't make it in the STEM disciplines. Women aren't visible in company management and as STEM Professors because many universities and companies want people to prove themselves during the standard child bearing years. So a woman must choose their science over having a family in most cases. There are only so many hours in a day and children do take time. So women mentors are not necessarily available in the STEM disciplines for younger women to follow.

    Boys also need mentors, high familial expectations and support for their decisions. Boys see very few men teaching elementary school and fathers are not necessarily active in their sons lives. Where are their supports? If a boy is good with his hands, is he encouraged to explore the trades or build robots.

    We all strive to meet expectations - personal, familial and those of our mentors.