Girls Are Outpacing Boys at School… Is That a Problem?

Boys and girls at schoolI just relived one of the favorite stories of my childhood through the eyes of my daughters. I inhaled Anne of Green Gables when I was a girl – first through the books (all eight of them, twice), then the movies. There’s a lot to be learned from that spunky, verbose, dramatic character, but what stuck out in my mind this time around, is the low expectations for women just a century ago.

Anne was the head of her class – and her reward was a scholarship to a “teacher college.” Her nemesis-turned-husband (spoiler alert!) later in the story becomes a doctor.

I’m happy to report that things are changing. Girls are outpacing boys in class, and consequently the education of women is exceeding men and has been since the 1990’s. Now, 57% of college students are women, and women earn about one-third more bachelor’s degrees than men, says the National Center for Education Statistics.

Beyond academics, boys are having a tough time achieving success in our education system. According to the U.S. Department of Education, boys receive 71% of school suspensions. Boys are also 30% more likely to flunk or drop out of school. I’m happy that girls are making progress in education — but I don’t want our girls’ success to come at the expense of our boys’. Though we are all “princesses” in my house, my friends with sons often talk about the challenges they’re facing in the classroom. It seems like somewhere in our fight for inclusive education for girls, we forgot the opposite sex.

But back to girls and women — we are WOMEN AdvaNCe after all – recent research indicates that while in the past, women who outpaced their husbands in education were more likely to experience divorce, now education has no apparent influence on divorce. Lead author of the study, Christine Schwartz, found that “the relationship between one’s educational attainment, marriage formation, and risk of divorce appears to suggest that couples are adapting to the demographic reality that women have more education than men.”

While we can stop and do a little happy dance that women are making progress, it’s important to remember that success will come when we all have equal opportunities in education. The education system needs to reexamine how it can help boys catch up to girls — without holding girls back. Beyond that, don’t forget the socioeconomic and racial disparities that remain in education.

Lastly – it also comes down to what happens once we become educated. I recently wrote a piece on the disparities that exist in the workplace as a result of a woman’s attempt to have a baby. I won’t jump on that soapbox again today, but it’s all part of the big picture.




There are 4 comments

Add yours
  1. Meghan

    Gender equality is not a zero sum game – improvements in educational access and success for girls should not be viewed as hurting boys.

    First, any improvement in the lives of girls and women translates into improvement in the lives of men as well – as sons, partners, and parents. Education of girls is associated with improvements in maternal/fetal health, improvement in family and community socio-economic status, and, at the macro level, increased GDP.

    Second, we need to continue to confront the discrimination women experience in their jobs and in society at large, despite their improved education, training, and credentials.

    Third, the issues confronting boys mentioned here: “Beyond academics, boys are having a tough time achieving success in our education system. According to the U.S. Department of Education, boys receive 71% of school suspensions. Boys are also 30% more likely to flunk or drop out of school.” – are unrelated to improved access to education and success rates of girls in the classroom. Rather these trends are the product of an uninspired curriculum that has resulted from NCLB and high stakes testing. If teacher pay is associated with student achievement test scores, teachers will continue to teach to the test – narrowing the curriculum and requiring students to work through “drill and practice activities” that are monotonous and boring. Also, if you dig into the statistics, you will note that African American boys make up the majority of school suspensions (even in disturbingly high rates at the pre-K level) – a troubling trend with causes, again, that have nothing to do with the relative success of girls. In fact statistics show that black girls are more likely to be suspended than white peers. Educational researchers interested in addressing this issue have pointed to a lack of culturally relevant education and institutionalized racism. You can learn more about this issue by exploring statistics posted by the US Dept of Educ. Be sure to note that students who are suspended are more likely to drop out of school.

  2. Deep Think

    It should come as no surprise that women are out performing men in education. Why? Because the reason is obvious. women were behind in education so attention and a whole lot of it was given to women. As a result momentum was created under women. Momentum will always Cary those that have it above and beyond those that don’t thus women have more than caught up.They have gone ahead.

    so the solution is obvious. Start paying attention to boys and momentum will be created with the boys and just like when momentum was created under girls boys with momentum will catch up and eventualy go ahead of girls and then thewhole process will begin all over again.

    • Deep Think

      Meghan

      You seem to be more concerned with the status of girls than with what the blog you were responding to. The blog was concerned with the plight of boys.You seem to think that there is a danger that if we start paying attention to the plight of boys in education that it will hurt girls in some way. You want to make sure girls don’t suffer if we start focusing on the fact that boys are struggling in education .You don’t seem to believe that boys are the ones in trouble right now not girls.You seem to think that girls should continue getting all the support as has been the case now for several decades which accounts in large measure to why girls are now excelling over boys. You instinctively realize that there has been much more support for girls in education than for boys and you want it to continue so that girls will continue to be on top.You like it this way.

      Girls have not always been out pacing boys in education. In fact back in the 70’s boys were excelling over girls. At that time the women’s movement focused the nation’s attention on what they called the girl crisis. It is interesting that the gender gap back then was treated as if it were a crisis were as now that the gender gap has been reversed there is hardly any mention of the gender gap in the news media the way it was mentioned when boys were ahead. Not many people male or female have written about the gender gap in education but the few that have have all expressed a bewilderment as to why not much has been done about the problem. As I have noted when girls are in trouble the whole nation comes together to help girls but when boys are in trouble there doesn’t seem to be the same zeal to come to their aid.Although interestingly enough there have been more females coming to the aid of boys than men! I think it might be because the paternal instinct of men to protect women and children does not extend to their own gender.

      This seems to be a trend today that whenever boys excel over girls its considered to be sexism and discrimination that is the cause of why boys are excelling over girls but when girls are excelling over boys its just the natural superiority of females revealing itself. One thing I know for sure is that there is not enough difference between the intelligence’s of the female brain and the male brain to to account for either gender doing better in education than the other. something was wrong with the educational system back in the 70’s when boys were excelling over girls and something is wrong with the educational system now when girls are excelling over boys.

      Now for why is it a problem. Interestingly it was the women’s movement that ignited the paternal instinct in men by clarifying what the problem with one gender out performing the other in education was when they said”When one gender out performs the other in education that gender will out compete for the best high paying jobs which will relegate the out performed gender to second class citizenship and that not fair to the nation’s daughters. Seeing it as a crisis men joined with women and reformed the educational system.As a results of those reforms they didn’t just close the gender gap which was their stated objective,they reversed the gender gap! But gone now is the women’s movement saying “If one gender out performs the other in education that gender will out compete for best high paying jobs which will relegate our nation’s sons to second class citizenship” I wonder why? Could it be because women really do not want parity with males?They only say so when females are on the bottom.As soon as women are on top there is no longer any talk of parity.What other reason could there be for the silence of the women’s movement concerning the gender gap in education now that girls are on top.

      Now here’s why it is a problem.Just as the women’s movement predicted would happen is happening. Because girls are excelling in education they are out competing males for high paying jobs. As a result malineal women just now entering the work place are on average out earning malineal males. Now here’s the problem.Traditionally men were considered the heads of households able to provide. women hardwired to be attracted to strong men able to provide.
      As women begin to out earn men they being hardwired to be attracted to strong men able to provide see themselves as the mighty hunters and men making less money as weak men and thus loose their desire for such men. This is one of the reasons marriage is in steep decline.

      Also with increasing frequency women are beginning to ask why do we need men any more? women now having out performed males in education and out competing males for highest paying jobs are now able to provide for themselves independently of men.Why is women gaining independence from men a bad thing. Its a bad thing because women are showing their conceitedness as they are with increasing frequency asking why do we need men anymore? When one gender begins to ask why do they need the other gender red flags should be waving their is danger here.Something wicked this way is coming!

      Also unlike men who for centuries have been willing to marry down women are reluctant to do so. Women say they want a man who is as well educated as they are. If men had had this attitude there would have been no marriages for centuries. Men married down because they had to because women weren’t out in the work place earning money as they now are.

      also male identity has historically been as providers. Now as women have gained independence from males males are struggling with their identify. Males are well aware that with ever increasing frequency women are asking why do we need men anymore. How do you suppose that makes men feel. do you think that’s very good for male self esteem?

      Social scientist have long held the view that marriage has a civilizing effect on men. Without marriage males have a tendency to revert back to savages. Therefor if women aren’t willing to marry down there is the potential for there to arise tens of thousands of angry,frustrated,unwed males. You can just imagine the mayhem these angry frustrated male will reek upon society.

      Right now the 3 pillars that formed the basis of female attraction for males are crumbling. The first of the 3 pillars is provision. Well if women out earning males the provison pillar will crumble.
      The second pillar was protection. In the modern era what do women need protection from. Its certainly not wild animals. No its the violence both from wars and domestic violence mostly caused by men so that it is men who women need protection from.thus the protection pillar
      is also crumbling. The third and final pillar is procreation. However the technology is now being developed that will create female sperm from female bone that will produce a female only child. Thus women will soon have the ability to populate the worl without men!

      thus all three pillars are rapidly coming down. women no longer need men for provision,or for protection, as women are now being trained for combat as combat roles are now being opened up for women. thus far women are showing that they might just be better at combat then men as many Isis soldiers have to their sorrow found out when engaging female Kurds in some battles in Syria and in Iraq. There have been several Isis attacks that were successfully repulsed by all female soldiers who inflicted heavy losses on the attacking issis soldiers and forced Isis to retreat. some say female soldiers have that same instinct when they are fighting to protect their homeland that mama grisly bears display when defending their cubs they have been known to kill male grisly bears that threathened their cubs. its the grisly bear instinct that enables moma grizly bears to fight with trmendous furosciousnes when her cubs are attatked and women seem to have it atleast Isis soldiers probably think so.

      thus we see that we are living at a time when all three pillars that formed the basis for female attraction for men. The root cause for all this is the gender gap in education. If it is not closed this situation will continue to get worst. Its not as if we have to rig the system so that boys can catch up. Its to reconize the system is already riged in favor of girls. As stated earlier there is not enough difference betwen the male and female brain that would justify one gender doing better in education than the other. something was wrong when boys were on top and something is wrong now when girls are on top.

      so the educational system must be revisited and make the necessary corrections to close the gender gap in education so that neither gender has an advantage over the other. If these reforms are made I am confident the current gender gap will be closed and then something close to parity beteen the genders will be achieved and once that happens the above mentioned problems wil be solved. but if the warning sounded here is not heeded and women continue asking why do they need men anymore something wicked this way comes!

  3. Deep Think

    Ann Carrol:

    Ann you ask the question in your title if it should be considered a problem that girls are out pacing boys in education? Let me answer that question with the fact that when boys were excelling over girls back in the 70’s it was considered a problem but you a girl are asking if it should be considered a problem now that girls are on top? By asking this question you indicate that your not sure it might be a problem. by so doing you are revealing yourself to be a sexist and perhaps a female supremacist. You known perfectly well that if boys were on top you would as women did back in the 70’s when boys were on top consider it a problem.

    A further give away that you are a sexist is that you wrote “I’m happy to report that things are changing. Girls are outpacing boys in class, and consequently the education of women is exceeding men and has been since the 1990’s. Now, 57% of college students are women, and women earn about one-third more bachelor’s degrees than men, says the National Center for Education Statistics.” If the situation was reversed you would you be happy about that. I don’t think so!
    I will give you some credit for recognizing why girls are out pacing boys when you wrote “It seems like somewhere in our fight for inclusive education for girls, we forgot the opposite sex. Yes that right you hit the nail on the head with the words “we forgot the opposite sex” That’s exactly what happened. Because girls were behind all the attention was focused on helping girls. thousands of support groups sprang up all around the country. Girls were told over and over again that there was an old boy’s network in place so that girls had to work twice as hard to go half as far and if they don’t out perform boys in school they will be wasting their education because boys will get the best jobs. Thus girls became fear motivated to excel in education. Doing just as well as boys is not good enough the key words were “Out perform boys” this fear motivation is was drives girls to work harder than boys.

    It wasn’t long before with all the attention being focused on girls that the old boy’s network was being dismantled and it its place has arisen the new girl’s net work. If the old boy’s net work was wrong so is the new girl’s net work. What happened was that by focusing attention only on the girl side of the ledger momentum was created with girls which momentum naturally carried girls above boys. so the solution is to start focusing on boys but being careful not to make the mistake that was made in focusing only on girls. I agree whole hardheartedly with you when you wrote “The education system needs to reexamine how it can help boys catch up to girls — without holding girls back.


Post a new comment