Girls Out-Performing Boys in School

A new and recent trend in American education is that girls are out-performing boys academically and at all levels in school.

Is this a problem??

This CBS report tells more:

“And if you think it’s just boys from the inner cities, think again. It’s happening in all segments of society, in all 50 states.”

““[Girls] tend to dominate the landscape academically right now, even in math and science.”

“The school’s advanced placement classes, which admit only the most qualified students, are often 70 percent to 80 percent girls. This includes calculus. And in AP biology, there was not a single boy.”

“Girls outperform boys in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, and graduate school,” says Dr. Michael Thompson, a school psychologist who writes about the academic problems of boys in his book, “Raising Cain.” He says that after decades of special attention, girls are soaring, while boys are stagnating."

“The picture doesn’t get much brighter for young men when they get to college. Campuses are now nearly 60 percent female, with women earning 170,000 more bachelor degrees each year than men”

here is the link:

I had a thread about that exact article about a year ago.

One proposed solution to the problem is Affirmative Action for men in primary and secondary education. When I presented the idea, there was a lot of negative reaction…but I still think it might be a solution. Not the only one, but a workable one. With the exception of the quirky drama teacher, none of my teachers in elementary school were male. I think this a problem.

Interestingly, the article highlights the fact that males don’t seem to be suffering in terms of jobs and salary. So even though they may graduate from high school/college less “qualified” than their female counterparts, they aren’t being punished for it.

From the link:

I was expecting something like this. It might be that, in terms of native intellegence, women have a higher mean value while men have a higer standard deviation. In that case, AA would be inappropriate based solely on gender. Perhaps the best method is to simply treat people as individuals and create different teaching methods for those who do not learn as quickly.

I’m not surprised at all. When I was in school, the girls, in general, always outperformed the boys. The girls were never given special treatment (if anything, it was the boys who could charm their way into a better grade) and there were just as many male teachers as female (if not more). I think it has something to do with how girls are still being raised not to make waves and to respect authority, not that those are necessarily bad things. Also, elementary and high school marks still incorporate creativity, neat handwriting, effort, etc. In early high school, even though a certain boy in one of my classes was smarter than a certain girl, he scribbled out (well-written) essays in barely legible pencil whereas she made a colourful cover page, included pictures and had her mom prrofread what she’d written (utter crap). She always did significantly better than him. Now, I hope this doesn’t sound sexist- there are plenty of messy girls and overachieving boys, and the girls aren’t just beating out the boys because they make their projects pretty. But it is worth noting that girls are told from a young age taht they have to try harder to succeed, and many of them do.
It is far from tragic, but I do think it’s important, while we’re telling the girls that they can enter science and play sports and become whatever they want, that we also tell the boys that they’re allowed to read books and be creative and try hard in school.

There is a lot of possible factors here. Intelligence, motivation, attention, introversion/extroversion and other factors all influence one’s grades in school. Also teaching style and role models along with other factors outside the individual student are important.

The structured class environment often teaches one method to a class of individuals. There are many classes in where smiling at the teacher, not hitting other students, and generally behaving “appropriately” is half the grade.

It may be boys tend to not fit in in the current highly structured environment as well as girls do, but it could be any of hundreds of other explanations also.

I would say one factor is peer pressure. There just isn’t the same stigma on smart girls as there is on smart guys. So the negative impacts there are going to weigh very heavily against males.

I’d also be interested in hearing the relative statistics on boys vs. girls with jobs in school. From my experiences a LOT more boys had jobs, and that does impact on academic performance. That may not be the norm, however.

I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned in the thread started by monstro, but this article by Christina Hoff Sommers is very relevant to discussions of the disparities between male and female achievements in school.

I guess what I find strange is the articles I read on the subject seem to indicate it is a new trend.

I wonder why that is??

What would be so different about school today, than say, 20 years ago??

I really don’t think girls are getting special treatment. :confused:

Based on nothing other than my own observations: I felt that all through grade and high school a higher percentage of girls tried to make good grades than boys did. The boys simply didn’t seem to care as much about grades. I know I didn’t.

And, errm, this would not be a recent thing. The time period I’m speaking of was a LONG time ago.

OLD Mars Guy

This subject was covered extensively in the Businessweek issue of May 26, 2003.

There’s a lot to read here. Don’t forget to look at all the “related stories” in the right sidebar.

Personally, I think this trend is good. More woman in business and government may help us focus more on important social issues such as trying to solve poverty and improving education rather than fight stupid wars. Estrogen vs. testosterone!

This is a very valid point. I noticed this especially in high school. Guys tended to be either the dumb ones, or the extremely intelligent ones. There was hardly ever a really dumb girl in class, and if there was it was usually due to lack of effort rather than lack of intelligence. There were very smart girls too, but the smart boys could out perform them with little effort.
Also the school curiculums seem to be structured towards girls. Especially in grade school. I mean, who do you think benefits more from all the collages and sprinkle paint you did in grade 6?

monstro: *One proposed solution to the problem is Affirmative Action for men in primary and secondary education. When I presented the idea, there was a lot of negative reaction…but I still think it might be a solution. *

According to anecdotal evidence from the experience of primary school teachers I know, gender-based AA is already being practiced informally: i.e., male primary-school teachers are much more likely to get jobs than female ones, precisely because the teacher gender ratio is so skewed and schools are eager to balance it out a bit.

I’m inclined to agree that females academically outperforming males on average is not a new tendency, it’s just becoming visible in the wake of more egalitarian policies about educating females. I’ve no idea why the tendency would exist, although the “culturally conditioned good behavior” idea does sound plausible as a cultural explanation, and JM’s idea about boys having a lower mean but higher sigma sounds reasonable as a biological explanation.

A socioeconomic explanation (just covering all the bases here!) might include the factor that there are still more high-paying jobs for men with lower educational levels (e.g., skilled trades like plumber, auto mechanic, which overwhelmingly tend to be staffed by men) then there are for women. So women who want to make a decent salary need to care more about grades and about getting some higher education than men do.

In any case, don’t worry, guys, we will not assume it’s because your brains are just genetically inferior! :smiley:

I must say, though, it will be interesting to see the reaction to these statistics on the part of pedagogical conservatives. A lot of conservatives have been complaining for a long time about what they consider pedagogical “coddling” of minorities and women by using gender-neutral and multicultural educational materials, trying to increase the number of role models by affirmative action for teachers, etc. (Our late lamented december was especially keen on these kinds of critiques.) I wonder how many of them will remain opposed to this alleged “coddling” when it’s a question of finding more role models or alternate learning strategies to remedy the performance lag of boys!

amore ac studio, thanks for the link. That’s a very interesting article. Are you researching the subject or did you just happen to come across it?

One of my co-workers recommended that article when I mentioned that Carol Gilligan’s work had been assigned reading in one of my undergraduate philosophy courses, and a followup question revealed that I had not read many of the opposing viewpoints and rebuttals that appeared in the wake of Gilligan’s publication of her research.

The heck there isn’t.

It’s perfectly acceptable for a girl to perform at an “above average” level in school, but when I was in school I saw all too many times the kind of nasty backlash from both boys and girls that occurs when a girl gets too smart (and fails to hide it). That’s actually one of the leading reasons I chose to attend a women’s college, and I met quite a few other young women there who’d made the same choice for the same reason.

What I wonder about is all the years when boys outperformed girls. This was seen as the norm back then, and there was no talk of affirmative action or any of that stuff.

What exactly are we aiming for?
Complete educational parity of the genders?
The opportunity for everyone to attain their full potential?
Boys to be encourgaed to learn and behave appropriately in class?
Each gender to be taught using methods that best suit them?

If you don’t know what you want, you can’t go about achieving it.
My cncern is that so much emphasis will be put on making learning easier for boys, that no-one will remember that gender bias against women still exists in the upper echelons of higher education and in the workplace.

A boy may have worse grades than his sister, but he’s still more likely to earn a higher wage.

I would be curious to know how this increased grade school performance is affecting Colleges. Most of the woem I know may have gotten good grades, but ended up with very…“acedemic” degrees. Most of them have simple clerical positions. Whereas many of the guys, regardless of grades, went into more technical fields.

IMHO grades in gradeschool don’t nessessarily reflect how one will do in life, as many of the classes pushed don’t directly affect it.

If it hasn’t already been pointed out, in HS, there are a greater number of males focusing on sports rather than grades as well.

irishgirl: What I wonder about is all the years when boys outperformed girls. This was seen as the norm back then, and there was no talk of affirmative action or any of that stuff.

Well, yeah there was, kind of. They called it “Women’s Lib”.

Feminists in the sixties and seventies pushed (and occasionally sued) to desegregate males-only colleges, universities, and private schools, to get more women hired as faculty members, to stop male teachers and students from treating “co-eds” as decorative accessories or coffee fetchers, etc. etc. Admittedly, this was part of a broad movement to combat entrenched social sexism in general, not specifically to improve the academic performance of females, but there was definitely an awareness that the two were linked.

Another thing that I think is interesting is that as far as we know, the typical classroom setting with a teacher instructing and directing rows of docile attentive students (which appears to date back literally several millennia, judging by the archaeological evidence from ancient schoolrooms) was designed by males, and for most of its history has been used overwhelmingly by males to instruct males.

But (barring some experimental educators who haven’t had much impact on our standard educational structure) nobody seems to have noticed that this system may not actually be the most conducive learning environment for males—until females began to be educated alongside males in more or less equal numbers and with more or less equal status, with better results!

Now all of a sudden it’s crossed people’s minds to speculate “Hey, maybe this classroom instruction setting where students are supposed to be docile and attentive and physically immobile isn’t the most effective way for boys to learn stuff.” Wow. Good thing somebody eventually picked up on this, huh? sorry about the last five thousand years, guys.

(Just in case I didn’t make it clear, I’m not being sarcastic about this concern: I think it’s perfectly possible that we have been mostly just sailing along for five thousand years of inertia with the standard classroom structure that works “okay”, without putting serious effort into figuring out whether we could come up with a system that works better.)

We’ve known all along that women on general can outperform men. That was my experience in the 50’s and early 60’s on the elementary level. It was believed then that girls just "matured " earlier than boys who eventually pass them somewhat going into college.

Well there is a reason that men have collaborated to subjugate women through religion and politics and force throughout civilized history. Men have had plenty of leisure time to impose a culture that is favourable to themselves. The moment that the mothers are free from the responsibilities of child rearing they can demonstrate if left unchecked an intelligence that would threaten the cushy masterly superior existence that men have enjoyed for millenia.

Well we all know that the barriers are breaking down. Women don’t really need men anymore. The divorce rate of 50% or thereabouts would suggest that men are not all that reliable . A smart woman rather than get behind her husband and support(push) him will now strive to be completely self-sufficient. With all the barriers to women acheiving breaking down, we are now in the western world seeing a revolution.

Why are we not seeing female domination in the boardroom yet? Well men still control the upper echelon of economies. But that will change. Some of these men will be seduced by attractive smart women to fill posts normally reserved for recruits to the “club”, and eventually the boardroom will be over run.

I recently read statitistics that showed that a vast majority of new small businesses are started by women. No politics here. Just the raw unbridled marketplace.

Young men searching for a career today should look in areas that represent physical hardships. Fishing is a good example.


Please post your propaganda elsewhere, show some cites, or at least put a “/sarcasm off” at the ond of drivel like that. The women in the cubes around me, whom I just sent that to think it’s just as funny as I do.