Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The growing gender gap in higher education

NBC Nightly News aired a story the other night highlighting the fact that fewer and fewer boys are finishing school or achieving a higher education.  In fact, the average college campus today is comprised of only 40% men.  We are finding that our American education system does not offer an environment conducive to the way boys learn. Boys like competition, teamwork and they like to produce a product.  They don't generally like to sit in a chair for a very long time, as they are much more physical by nature.  Thus, they tend to get in trouble and lose focus in a classroom setting.  Some say that we may need to focus on the three "R"s for boys — reading, writing and recess.  

In the past, this was not a problem, as men could still work in a high-paying manufacturing or other male-oriented job.  Today, those jobs are becoming very scarce, leaving under-educated young men with very little opportunity. 

In the above video clip from NBC, three UGA young women discuss the reasons they think young men are not as ambitious as women. I found it ironic to listen to a young black woman lament the fact that in the job interview, a male applicant may have an edge over her in order to fill "diversity".  This is the new problem of the millennium — where are all the boys going? 


Read more by clicking here.


No Excuses said...

I have no sympathy for todays young men who can't keep up with the girls.

I was a rambunctious boy growing up. I spent my fair share of time in the prinicipal's office and was well acquanted with his paddle. I played varsity baseball and football in high school. And I frequently ran extra windsprints after practice because of classroom behavior issues. Some would say I was "trouble". I certainly had a difficult time sitting still and paying attention.

But I went to college and earned a BA in four years. I then went to medical school in Augusta (where over half of my graduating class was female) and completed residency and fellowship training programs (where -- in both programs -- over half of the residents and fellows were female).

Today I have a successful medical practice where over half of my physician partners are female.

I share this in order to make four points.

First, I got to where I am by buckling down, working hard and focusing on goals.

Second, my female medical school classmates got to where they are by self discipline, hard work and determination.

Third, the females were -- on average -- better students, residents and fellows than me and my male peers.

Fourth, in my generation female physicians are more often than not better doctors than me and my male colleagues.

Don't believe me? Well, consider this: My personal physician is a female. My wife's personal physician is a female. My childrens physicians are females. And my parents physicians are females.

In each instance we chose our doctors because they had the best education, best training, best experience and had the best reccomendations. Gender had nothing to do with it. And, as it turns out, in each instance each is the absolute best physician.

Maybe women are smarter than men. Maybe women work harder than men.
Maybe men need to stop making excuses.

Maybe parents (and society) should stop making excuses for males and instead expect them to start working as hard as their female peers.

Otherwise our sons, nephews and grandsons will continue to fall further behind their female peers.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the list of Star Students and their Star Teachers from our high schools? I know they recently had a reception and DCSS usually sends out a press release. I wonder how many boys/girls on the list. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

And yet, when they are employed, woment still earn less, on average.

Anonymous said...

I shudder in fear of where we will be as a society in 10 or 15 years as this trend continues. I don't disagree with No Excuses but we need a place for the 60% we are losing. We can't keep on medicating 75% of our boys to turn them into girls --the boys will never be docile girls. Society needs a place for the 60-70% we are "losing" -- they need to have jobs. We can't have a "program" whereby the "wealthy" will provide for 'entitlements' all of the unemployed. Hitler's 'soldiers' were such unemployables, as were Stalins, as are today's suicide bombers. We need a place for the boys we are losing....

Anonymous said...

re Star Students:

From the Dunwoody reporter

To my count 8 boys, 10 girls. I haven't seen a complete list anywhere.

Cerebration said...

I took away from this report that unless boys attend college, there really is not much opportunity to make a living in today's American society as compared to even one generation ago. Our manufacturing jobs have gone overseas. We don't offer much in the way of vocational or technical training for people who don't attend college. I'm very happy for "No Excuses" that he was able to become a doctor, but that is not a realistic dream for most of us. In fact, completing a bachelor's degree is only accomplished by just over 15% of us.

USA Today reported this on the 2000 Census -

The Census data, based on estimates from the long form sent to one in six households, showed that among people 25 and older:

21% of Americans had taken some college courses but had not earned a degree in 2000, compared with 18.7% 10 years earlier.
15.5% had earned a bachelor's degree but no higher, compared with 13.1% in 1990.
8.9% earned graduate or professional degrees, compared with 7.2% earlier

Anonymous said...

Well, women were told to become more like men in the boardrooms of the business world. Maybe boys need to learn that if they want to compete in the knowledge economy, they need to become more like girls. Any parent who does not stress paying attention and self control for their child in today's society is doing him or her a disservice. Being on time, paying attention, completing the task you are given - these don't seem like unreasonable requests. They are valuable skills to learn in schools and they are valuable in the working world.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need to figure out what is causing this gender difference.

But I always scratch my head when I read this "boys can't sit still for school" explanation for achievement gaps. That seems to assume that we designed our schools with the needs of female students in mind, which just isn't true. The public school model was designed in the nineteenth century for boys first, and girls as an afterthought, as it was boys whose education was related to their earning potential.

In fact, before 1900, schools were MORE likely to emphasize sitting still in your desk, being highly disciplined, and copying monotonous information down. Many, many boys have been educated this way for generations. If boys are so wild and physical by nature, why were those boys able to do it?

I'm really suspicious of these easy "boys are just like this" explanations ... and especially of the gender-specific classroom changes they seem to justify. Is it possible something else is going on?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:59 hits the nail on the head:

"Any parent who does not stress paying attention and self control for their child in today's society is doing him or her a disservice. Being on time, paying attention, completing the task you are given - these don't seem like unreasonable requests."

Any student -- male or female -- who fails to be on time, pay attention and complete assignments will not advance. And they'll suffer the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Our expectations for our children aren't high enough across the board. I expect my child to leave school with his brain hurting because he's used it so much. I believe that if we were challenging our children more and offering them more ways to critically think that there would be fewer discipline problems and that more of our children would be better prepared for college and technical schools.

It's a shame that there is such a stigma against children going to technical school and learning a trade. These kids are likely to out earn the kids that go to college, if they are good in their chosen field.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, before 1900, schools were MORE likely to emphasize sitting still in your desk, being highly disciplined, and copying monotonous information down. Many, many boys have been educated this way for generations. If boys are so wild and physical by nature, why were those boys able to do it?"

My understanding is that (a) we had recess and other outlets to "offlet" energy; (b) we were "ruling by the fist" so there were very serious consequences for "acting out"; (c) the kids who really 'couldn't cut it" or who were just not interested had "other avenues" -- factories, farms, etc. to earn a living in -- we need more alternatives, more "discpline" (I'm not encouraging "iron fist") and more "outlets."

Ida Know from Ellenwood said...

Bah. I'll wait till I'm discriminated against, throw down the gender card, and complain to my congresswoman. That'll get me special status, set asides etc. See, I don't have to work at it and it will all be given to me. Just you wait. NAODD. National Association of Discriminated Dudes.

Anonymous said...


Tell me when you have the magic bullet to get them to follow these not unreasonable requests.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 8:30 pm

"Tell me when you have the magic bullet to get them to follow these not unreasonable requests.'

There is no "magic bullet" for ensuring your child understands that it is important to:
1. Be on time
2. Pay attention
3. Complete a task

For many children it is very hard work, and it is extremely time consuming for parents. But for many kids it's a question of "pay me now or pay me later". If you don't spend the time to instill those qualities in your child every single day of their young life, in the future your chances are greater than ever that you will be wondering why he or she is moving back into your basement when they should be on their own.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the boys going?
Just look at the House and Senate (national and state level). Check out the governors. Yep, lots of boys (and lots of white ones, too!).
Now look at Wall Street. See the boys. The hedge fund managers, the big executives. Male, male, and more male.
Now glance over to the corporate boards. Big boys, lots of them.

If you want to see males, look at the power and money.

Now quit with the bitch and moan victim routine.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so schools were originally designed for girls?

Wyndy Amerson said...

As a former middle school teacher, I learned quickly that boys and girls are just different. Hormones. Hard Wired Brains. I tried to include some learning activity once or twice a week that got everyone out of their seat. It takes a lot more time and energy to corrall 32 8th graders in an activity. Boys like to use their big muscles. If I could create the perfect school then boys would be building tree houses and forts by using fractions, geometry and physical science. Our schools are spending their money on "Instructional coaches" and "Legal Fees for Corrupt Employees" rather than providing a variety of learning resources for our classrooms. Yes, NO EXCUSES, boys do start to catch up once the frontal lobe starts to knit together in the late teens and early twenties. Yes, discipline and an early childhood education on polite behavior is necessary. Still, we should recognize the differences in learning among those who are visual learners, auditory and hands-on as well and the gender differences. Lecturing from a book is boring at any age and shows a great lack of imagination and skill.

Anonymous said...

Let's be realistic, until the 70s or so, boys were more successful in school than girls because most girls aspired to become mothers and housewives. Then there was a huge push to get the girls educated appropriately because they were going to have to work and compete as societal values changed. Anyone who thinks that the "diversity" pushes of the 80s didn't include women are wrong. Women were sought out in order to meet these diversity requirements, many times to the disadvantage of men. As a recruiter, we used to joke that the group most discriminated was white men because no one wanted to hire them. We were given mandates that clients would only consider minorities - and these were high level jobs too. The focus was on getting minorities (women, blacks, asians, hispanics) into jobs so that the companies would become more diverse. The disproportionate numbers now make sense to me since it was hard for boys to succeed when other groups were more desired by employers. It was not considered discriminatory to hire only minorities but I always thought it was discriminatory if the best candidate was male. Because society pushed for women and minorities to succeed and put programs in place to assure this, no one cared about the boys which is showing now. Certainly it will even out but it is no surprise to me. Absolutely boys should work as hard as girls to be successful but, my point is, even if they did, for years it didn't matter because they were the majority and everyone wanted minorities to fill their better jobs. Women and minorities have been very successful and I don't deny them that but they had lots and lots of help. (And I am female.)

Anonymous said...

I'm not that worried (concerned) about the men and the women who are showing up on top - as governor, as president, in congress, on wall street. I'm worried about the boys dropping out of school left, right and center who are unemployable. What happens to society in a decade when we have 20 and 30 and 40 year old men who can't get jobs because the manufacturing and truck driving and legitimate army jobs are oversees, farming maybe has shrunk or can't substantiate them all or they don't know how to farm -- what does society do with this population? We can't continue with the "entitlements" to care for them the way we are because I do not believe that there are enough people in the 5% bracket paying the costs to carry the entitlements to make the current system of covering this "program" -- so where does that leave us as these kids are "disappearing off the rolls?" That's my concern. I have boys and they will all graduate high school, graduate college and grad school and be in that group funding the entitlements. I don't want them (or us as old folks) physically harmed by the folks not getting through school and into employable situations where they can support themselves happily through life.

Anonymous said...

I am female and am shocked at those of you that have the "suck it up" mentality. Women deserved the leg up for years but it's not okay that boys need it now? Genders appear to learn better in different environments but because women are succeeding in the classroom where PE and recess have been removed, they are better and harder workers? Tests have been reworked to ensure inner city kids get a test they can relate to and not be judged on one that is more beneficial to their white middle class counterparts. This is similar to what is going on between girls and boys. When the roles were reversed in industry, women went crazy with all kind of discrimination talk and lawsuits. But now it is a big deal to talk about and look for solutions to this issue with boys? And I highly doubt the boys "can't keep up" with the girls. Times have changed. Maybe they need the same encouragement and special treatment women have gotten for years. No doubt, if they become a recognized minority, they will grow again in numbers in college just as the women have.

Anonymous said...

@Wyndy Amerson - I agree with you 100%.

As the mother of a teenage boy with "learning differences", I can absolutely testify that public school is not set up to deal with a variety of learning styles in one class. It's not the teacher's fault - how can you possibly teach to a variety of learning styles when you have 30-35 kids in your class? You have to teach to the majority of kids in your class. Those kids with different learning styles then struggle to master the material and keep up with the rest of the class. I have watched my son struggle year after year in the classroom -- and I have spent many, many evenings teaching him the same information, but in a format that he can easily grasp.

If I had it to do all over again (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, of course), I would have pinched every penny I possibly could so I could put my son in a private school which had the resources to effectively teach to the gamut of learning styles. Public school has not served him well at all.

Anonymous said...

@8:57-no magic bullet

That is exactly my point. Several prior comments made it seem like these things are easy. They can be a challenge for any "normal" child, let alone the one with ADHD.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 10:03

"I'm not that worried (concerned) about the men and the women who are showing up on top - as governor, as president, in congress, on wall street. "

The "entitlement" group did not invent Collateralized Debt Obligations and Synthetic CDOs and Credit Default Swaps. The "entitlement" group did not invent the subprime mortgages that gave $300,000 loans to workers who made $12,000 a year and then repackaged those loans as AAA (with the blessing of the rating firms), sliced and diced them and sold them to single investors, pension funds, mutual funds, banks, etc. The "entitlement" group didn't use subterfuge and illegal practices to cost the U.S. and world economy trillions of dollars and bring us double digit unemployment. The real "transfer of wealth" occurred on Wall Street.

I'm very concerned about the people on "top" since little has changed in that arena. Yes. Medicare and Social Security and public pensions and other "entitlements" need to be addressed, but let's be fair. Many of the cuts in the public service area have occurred because of our economy tanking and the economy tanked because of the unethical and illegal practices of Wall Street and the U.S. banking and mortgage industry. Government jobs have become a greater part of our economy because of the loss of private sector jobs (and the addition of service men and women to fight the Middle Eastern wars).

When you cut Social Security and Medicare, ordinary Americans will be assuming the burden of care for their elderly parents and most of those ordinary Americans work - so they will bring home less money since someone must stay home and care for aging and ill parents - yes, most people love their parents and will forgo income to care for them. So now we will have less income to tax and this must be weighed into the larger budget issue.

We have big economic problems in the U.S., and the resolution of them is extremely complex. Blaming all of the problems on one group or another - Wall Street, the "entitlement" groups, public employees, etc. may be politically expedient, but this is not productive and will not move us forward.

The one constant in this situation is that a highly educated and highly skilled labor force is the most important resource we have. This is more important than all the Wall Street "big shots" continuing unregulated or "entitlement" programs continuing completely intact. If we cannot produce an adaptable and powerful labor force, we will fall further and further behind.

Anonymous said...

"They can be a challenge for any "normal" child, let alone the one with ADHD."

All boys do not have ADHD. Some countries have virtually 100% literacy rate (50% of those are males). If you do not teach a child to be on time, pay attention, complete his/her work, you are doing him/her a disservice. Believe me - his/her boss does not care that he/she is ADHD or any other acronym. They just want the work done in an expeditious and complete manner. If you can't perform, you will lose your job. It's really that simple. Some people have a harder time with math than others (me included). They have to work harder at it (I did). Some people have a harder time being a fluent writer.
They have to work harder at it.

We do not have the class sizes that would allow the space, time or personal attention that so many on this blog want. If you want to advocate for conditions to be different, then get to work electing another BOE that will redirect our resources into the regular education classrooms.

Anonymous said...

"If you do not teach a child to be on time, pay attention, complete his/her work, you are doing him/her a disservice. Believe me - his/her boss does not care that he/she is ADHD or any other acronym. "

And that's exactly what most of us who have an ADHD child are trying so hard to do. I will absolutely celebrate the day that my child has acquired the coping mechanisms that will enable him to be on time, pay attention and complete his work independently. I work toward that goal every single day of my life.

The typical ADHD child is not served well in public school. Because of the large class sizes, the teachers cannot individualize their instruction to accommodate different learning styles and must teach to the majority. The ADHD kid is basically left out there to hang. I fully recognize that fact - that's why I've spent so many of my evenings reteaching the day's lessons to my kid.

As a taxpayer, I can't help but resent the extra money spent on "gifted" kids to give them reduced class size while my child is crammed into these huge classes. He would benefit greatly from reduced class size (as would all kids), but somehow he's not worth as much as the gifted kids, so he doesn't get that benefit. It's very frustrating because a little extra attention could make such a big difference to my child's success in school.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the IEP plans for ADD/ADHD kids could provide for and insist upon smaller class sizes and insist upon it that way? Also, I really believe that DCSS is depriving many of their schools of their gifted funding. If all of the schools received all of their gifted funding, I believe that all of the class sizes would be much smaller, because more of the funding would be in the schools. If DCSS were required to fund schools based on dollars (as do Fulton & Gwinnett) rather than points, there may be less of an ability to play games with the funding and more would filter into the schools.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:13 pm

If Audria Berry of the Office of School Improvement would spend most of that $128,000,000 in federal dollars on Title 1 teachers for small groups of struggling students, that would be a great start. Instead, she has authorized and the BOE approved tens of millions for non-teaching coordinators and coaches. Here's her contact information from the BOE website:
Dr. Audria Berry
Executive Director
678-676-0305 (phone)

Also, email your BOE members and Ms. Tyson and express your children's need for small classes and direct instruction.

Don't let them tell you they can't spend the money on Title 1 Math and Title 1 Reading teachers. That's what many school systems do, and it's a perfectly acceptable way to spend the money - teaching kids. Hence the name Title 1 Math teacher and Title 1 Reading teacher. Ms Berry has built up a loyal cadre of highly paid non-teaching personnel. It's a real power center.

Anonymous said...

8:36 and others
I've seen several people disparage "different learning styles" but they are real. I know I am a visual learner. I see it and I will remember it. But if I only hear it, its much more likely to get filtered. I can see different styles in my children.

The idea is to TEACH these elementary school children. There's plenty of time for conforming and coping in middle and high school (not that I am disagreeing about needing more discipline in the classrooms-if a teacher doesn't know how to work it even the quiet children get out of control). My child's public school starts significantly reducing physical activity in 2nd grade. Many children need that time or they fidget all through class. We need to teach them where they are, not where we want they to be.

For ADHD kids they not only have to sit for extended periods, they have classrooms that are usually bright and stimulating which are a constant distraction. The rooms are usually too busy for them.

Sitting still and finishing tasks was not a challenge for me. But my children are wired differently, have different peers and have a different world. If you try to deal with the world as you want it to be instead of how it actually is, you have failure, much like many of our public schools.

Anonymous said...

"Don't let them tell you they can't spend the money on Title 1 Math and Title 1 Reading teachers. That's what many school systems do, and it's a perfectly acceptable way to spend the money - teaching kids. Hence the name Title 1 Math teacher and Title 1 Reading teacher."

Please start posting the names of specific school districts using funds this way... much more helpful then generalizations. Also, since Pam Speaks ran title one, it may be most helpful to send her all of your thoughts .. a barrage of comments... maybe her and Don as the teachers on the BOE....

Cerebration said...

We have a Chamblee High school girl who is quite the celebrity after winning over $40,000 on "Jeopardy!"

Chamblee High student buzzes in on Jeopardy

“I’ll take Exceptional Teens for 200, Alex.”

“The answer is:

15-year-old Chamblee High School sophomore who made it to the final round of Teen Jeopardy and won $42,600.”

“Who is Kailyn LaPorte?”

Anonymous said...

Briarlake kid through 3rd grade, then Kittredge Magnet the rest of the way....Way to go Cailyn (her oldest brother also "won the lottery" .. but not the middle sister).

Anonymous said...

I am a have a BA and have been teaching for 17 years. My plumber earns more money annually than I (and he has been a plumber for 10 years).

Bring back the vocational ed classes, and not just for the boys. Too many of us are unable to make the most basic repairs to our cars and our homes. I am so grateful that I had "shop" classes in school. I can change my own oil, make basic carpentry repairs, replace light fixtures, etc. As a teacher, I am on a tight budget. I have saved a lot of money over the years because I am able to fix things myself.

DIY Junkie

Anonymous said...


The school day in many DCSS schools is like a day in prison--no windows, no fresh air, little time to socialize (yes, I believe that it is important for kids to spend some free time with their friends during the school day).

When I was in college I took a few night classes. These classes met once weekly for three hours. The professor always gave us a 15-20 minute break in the middle of the class period. Why do we expect our students to sit for three hours without a break (there is only a 6 minute passing period between Blocks 1 and 2)?

Lunch at school is like meal time in a prison. Long lines and not enough time to eat. At many schools the students are not allowed outside. There 4 different assigned lunches, thus preventing students from eating with friends.

What happened to the inviting school house?

DIY Junkie