Both boys and girls are hurt by the effects of progressivist ed theories:
reduction of academic content, blurring of meaningful assessment,
packing of classroom time with psychobabble and busywork projects.
But much of the damage done by fuzzy ed theories is especially hurtful
to boys, since much of the progressivist agenda is overwhelmingly skewed towards girls.
What Has Changed?
As we will explore on this page, boys are doing poorly today, but
this wasn't always the case. Therefore, any explanation or attempt
at fixing the problem must grapple with the reality that quite
evidently something has changed. For that reason, statements like
"For boys, it isn't cool to be good at school" fail to explain what is happening --
it may be true, but there's no reason to think it represents a
In the search for what has changed, all that may be necessary is to
walk into a typical K-8 classroom today and see the pandemic artworks
in all subjects, the nonstop self-reflective essays, chatty verbal
and written responses to just about everything, condemnation of
learning of (gasp!) facts, math that has more New Age
philosophy than arithmetic, low-content gee-whiz science designed
for the MTV generation, "social studies" that has scant real history,
geography and civics in the early years, and the omission of academic
competitions or recess.
22 School Practices That Harm Boys
(by Kevin Killion, March 2006)
Just what is going on in modern progressivist schools that could account
for the plummeting academic performance of boys? Let's consider which of these changes seem to be a factor.
Many of these are discussed in more details
in the articles listed below.
- Teaching Methods
- Whole language instead of phonics (research shows differences between
boys and girls in the extent of harm done by whole language)
- Classroom Organization and Practices
- Collaborative workgroups, which favor social interaction over
personal skills and knowledge
- Desk seating in clusters or pods, instead of directed towards the teacher.
Clusters dramatically increase the number of distractions,
and substantial research finds that students (all students)
really do learn better when desks face the teacher.
- Emphasis on multiple simultaneous classroom activities -- a major source of distractions --
instead of focused, whole-class, engaging instruction
- Trend towards "project-learning" that is overwhelmed by play-like art projects
and social activities,
instead of dynamic direct teaching of content knowledge and skills
- Reduced emphasis in classroom on competition: spelling bees, geography bees, awards, etc.
- Reduced emphasis in school on competition: valedictorians, GPAs, honor rolls, etc.
- Subject Material: Interest
- Assigned literature skewed lopsidedly towards social issues, and away
from novels of high adventure, courage, patriotism, etc. (Also see our pages
on the Illinois Rebecca Caudill awards and
- Almost total absence of fact-based biography and non-fiction in literature and reading classes.
- Subject Material: Bias
- "Modern" textbooks and recommended literature often go to extremes to remove
male role models as lead characters and examples.
(Read more regarding this issue in textbooks and in
- Assessment and Expectations
- Schools now emphasize process over facts (more):
- In history and science,
"research" and "hypothesizing" now takes the place of knowing what happened or how things work.
- Even in mathematics, the goal is no longer the
mastering of good methods in the pursuit of correct answers.
Instead, classwork involves
"discovering" different methods and verbal ability in
describing the approach taken.
(Albert Einstein would not have
done well in today's math classroom.
He once said, "I rarely think in words at all. A thought comes,
and I may try to express it in words afterward.")
- Assessment via chatty essays emphasizing verbal skills and
expressions of feelings, instead of objective measurement
of knowledge and understanding
- For whatever reason, boys tend to be less skilled than girls
in producing neat, clear handwriting. But research finds that
"Illegible or poor handwriting can hinder students
in getting fair and objective grades from their teachers ...
[T]he quality of students' handwriting influences how teachers
evaluate papers; students with better handwriting receive higher grades
than those with poor handwriting." The result? Boys get lowered grades
due to the written form of assessment.
- Scoring of these essays by factors unrelated to the subject material at hand
(e.g., math exams that give points for use of complete sentences,
use of upper and lower case letters, reference to personal beliefs and experiences)
- Attention, Distractions, Physical Activity
- Inattention seen as a psychological disease to be drugged
rather than a social deficiency to be corrected
- Over-medicalization of attention issues: Instead of harnessing the enthusiasm
of "hunter"-type alertness and guiding students in its control and application,
typical lack of classroom attention is seen as a psychological
malady that requires use of powerful psychotropic drugs.
- Classroom decorations, postings and colors that are over-the-top, resulting in an environment
that is jarring and distracting rather than simply warm, inviting and encouraging.
- Elimination of recess, a healthy outlet for physical energy
- "Softening" of gym activities, reducing or eliminating vigorous or competitive
ones (e.g., dodgeball), while increasing yoga, stretching, and other less active ones.
The result is the loss of this physical outlet, and a conveyed sense that something
is less acceptable about those other activities, which are enjoyed by many boys.
- Teacher Biases
- More girls than boys report that they are called upon "often."
- More boys than girls report that teachers won't let them "say things they want to say."
- Teachers often respond well to students who are verbal and active in
class discussions, and often that's a big advantage for girls.
As a reporter observed in a recent
"In an advanced-placement government class Wednesday, the girls
excitedly responded to questions about the U.S. Constitution
without raising their hands while the boys gave an occasional answer.
'They're louder and talk a lot more...' noted [a senior boy]."
Progressivist Ed and Boys
Portrayals of Boys and Men
- White House Conference on Helping America's Youth,
paper presented by Judith Kleinfeld, University of Alaska, June 6, 2006:
"All of us sense immediately and viscerally whether people respect us,
and boys do not get respect. American culture has lost respect for
what used to be considered 'manly virtues.' These include 1)
physical courage, used in the service of noble ends, 2) singleness of
purpose, energetic devotion to one overarching goal, and 2) emotional
restraint, what we used to call 'grace under pressure.'
We shut boys down, labeling the rough and tumble play characteristic
of all juvenile male primates 'violence and aggression,' labeling
immature attempts at romance 'sexual harassment,' labeling
spiritedness, the quality of the soul the Greeks called thumos,
'rebellion and defiance.' When we shut boys down, why should we be
surprised when so many of our boys become lifeless and dispirited?"
The Boys Project
- "Modern" textbooks and recommended literature often go to extremes to remove
male role models as lead characters and examples. In her book
"The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn", Diane Ravitch
cites the example of the state of California rejecting
The Little Engine That Could as an approved reading book because the main character was male.
- In writing about sanitized and politically correct questions
in standardized tests in her important paper
"Education After the Culture Wars" (PDF doc from Daedalus,
Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Summer 2002)
Diane Ravitch notes,
"As a member of the [National
Assessment Governing Board], I reviewed one- and two-page passages that had
been prepared by the testing consortium ... Most of these passages had been
previously published in children's magazines or in recent anthologies.
After I had read about a dozen such passages ... I realized that the readings
themselves had a cumulative subtext: the hero was never a white boy. Instead,
the leading character -- the one who was
most competent, successful, and sympathetic -- was invariably either a girl (of
any race) or a nonwhite boy. Almost
without exception, white boys were portrayed as weak and dependent. In one
story, a white boy in a difficult situation weeps and says plaintively, 'If only my
big sister were here, I would know what to do.'" (emphasis added)
In the same
article, Ravitch later provides an extraordinary litany of phrases and
usages that were forbidden, according to the test developers.
With regards to gender, Ravitch gives these as examples of politically
incorrect phrasings that were prohibited in test materials:
"Men shown as 'strong, brave, and silent,' women shown as
'weepy, fearful, and emotional'; boys playing sports, or girls playing with
dolls; ... men working as lawyers, doctors, or plumbers; women working as nurses
or secretaries; ... men playing sports or working with tools; women
cooking and caring for children; ... men portrayed as breadwinners;
women portrayed as homemakers... Illustrators must not use pink
for baby girls or blue for baby boys. Out is the old-fashioned idea that females
care more about their appearance than
males do: today's illustrator must portray both sexes 'preening in front of a
mirror,' with Dad using a blow-dryer."
When Boys Were Boys by David Frum, The Weekly Standard, October 20, 1997.
"But as one looks through
the racks of new books, one is overwhelmed by how hostile grownup society seems
to be to its sons.
"It's not that grownup society is hostile to boyishness as such. On the
contrary, grownups eagerly encourage risk-taking and adventuring -- provided
only that it's done by girls. There's no shortage of books for young readers
about wars and western exploration, about mountain-climbing and bravery during
floods and hurricanes. But the protagonists of these books are usually
10-year-old girls. Pick up a catalogue of the children's books published in the
past two or three years. You'll find Seeing Red, the story of an intrepid
Cornish girl who saves her village from Napoleonic invasion, and The Ballad of
Lucy Whipple, about a young girl's adventures in the California Gold Rush. There
is Grace the Pirate, Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmond,
Civil War Spy, and the Daughters of Liberty series, which tells bold stories of
girlish derring-do during the Revolution.
"Stories for boys are no longer permitted to be so exciting. Here is a
publisher's blurb for a book about a boy who courageously 'defies teasing to
remain enrolled in ballet class.' Here's another about 'Lame teenager Shem' who
'finds manhood in the Michigan wilderness with the help of an old Indian woman.'
And a third: 'Doing volunteer work at Santa Barbara's Sidewalk's End, a day-care
facility for children of the homeless, Ben witnesses an instance of physical
abuse and -- for the best of reasons -- decides to take matters into his own
"... boys must always have girls with them, doing everything they do -- indeed,
almost always doing it better. You hear many complaints that boys today don't
seem interested in reading. Who can blame them?"
- Some "experts" decry what they see as "violent" plots or themes, and rail
against children being exposed to such books. But are books about monsters, fantasy,
super-heroes or other stories with "action" or violence actually damaging?
And is there a gender bias issue at stake here, with many such books often being enjoyed
by boy readers? We don't have the answers to those questions, but here are some
Boys' Violent Tastes Harmless: Psychologist
by Anne Marie Owens, National Post (Canada), June 24, 2003
"The author who raised the first alarm about boys and violence in North America
says we should stop worrying about boys indulging in war games, wrestling and
fantasy play and begin embracing their low-brow tastes.
Michael Thompson, the psychologist who wrote the groundbreaking book
Raising Cain and several other best-selling books about boys, told a
gathering of librarians from across North America that 'snobbery and elitism'
are too much a part of the prevailing attitudes toward boys. ...
'A good choice is a book that a boy takes deep pleasure in reading, and
nobody can tell a boy what that book will be.'"
In Praise of Violence
by John Podhoretz, Weekly Standard, October 7, 2002.
This is a review of a book, "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence"
by Gerard Jones. Excerpts:
"Killing Monsters is a book that demanded to be written, if
only to provide a moment's respite from a piece of conventional
wisdom that goes almost completely unchallenged. Over the past thirty
years it has become axiomatic that depictions of violence in popular
culture are utterly without redeeming merit. Critics on the left
(such as Peggy Charren of Action for Children's Television) and
critics of the right (such as Michael Medved) are in full-throated
agreement on the evils of fantasy and fictional violence as depicted
on television, in the movies, in comic books, in popular music, and
in video games. ...
In the book's most original and telling insight, Jones suggests the
problem arises from a failure to comprehend the nature of childhood
play, which he believes is almost entirely metaphorical. ...
At every moment, the play of children is shot through with the
knowledge that they are playing. They are not powerful. They are not
Why I Launched the Campaign Against "Boys are Stupid" Products
by Glenn Sacks, Los Angeles Daily News, February 4, 2004.
"'Dad, why are they always saying things like that about boys?'
This question asked by my 11 year-old son triggered a campaign which
in just six weeks has driven T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise
bearing the slogan 'Boys are Stupid--Throw Rocks at Them' out of
nearly 3,000 retail outlets worldwide. The products depict a little
boy running away as several rocks come flying at his head.
The stores dropped the products after being bombarded with thousands
of e-mails and phone calls, largely from the listeners and supporters
of my radio talk show."
Boys Are Falling Behind
U.S. Girl Students Outperform Boys in Most Subjects, Study Finds
by Krista Kafer, School Reform News, March 1, 2005. Subject headings include:
Girls Read, Write Better
Math Difference Small
Boys Have More Problems
College Participation Favors Girls
- As of December 2007, the website of the Glencoe PTO carried this admission:
"Boys earn two-thirds of the Ds and Fs in the district, but less [sic] than half the A's."
Boys or Girls -- Pick Your Victim
by Glenn Sacks, The Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2005. Excerpts:
"A new Duke University study on child well-being ...
clearly contradicts the popular notion that there is a 'girl crisis' --
that modern girls are disadvantaged. But the Duke press release added
a twist of its own, announcing that 'American boys and girls today are
faring almost equally well across key indicators of education, health,
safety and risky behavior.' News reports have followed suit, with headlines
such as 'Boys, girls fare equally in U.S.: Study debunks both sides in
long debate' and 'Boy-girl gender gap? Not so fast.'
Yet the study shows nothing of the sort. Boys and girls fared equally
in six of the 28 categories studied by the researchers -- and girls
fared better than boys in 17 of the remaining 22. The male advantages
were modest. For instance, males had a small advantage in math, a
slightly lower propensity to smoke, and less likelihood to have been
relocated in the last year.
In contrast, many of the girls' advantages are huge. ...
The percentage of boys graduating from high school has dropped back
below 1985 levels. Girls get better grades than boys and are much
more likely than boys to graduate from high school, enter college and
graduate from college. Although more girls than boys enroll in
high-level math and science classes, boys did score a couple of
points better on the most recent national math test considered by the
study. But girls' advantage on the most recent reading test is five
times as large.
The vast majority of learning-disabled students are boys, and boys
are four times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder as girls. Boys are far more likely than girls
to be disciplined, suspended, held back or expelled."
Fact Sheet: What's Wrong with the Guys? (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter, October 30, 2002.
Here is an excellent nine page summary of the symptoms of the crisis with boys.
Report Finds Huge Gender Gap In Writing Skills Test
by Joshua Benton, Dallas Morning News, Friday, July 11, 2003.
"Girls far outscored boys on the writing portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress,
according to new data released Thursday. It's the largest gender gap of any major subject area tested by NAEP,
the federal tests often called "the nation's report card. ...
Forty percent of eighth-grade girls scored high enough on NAEP to be considered 'proficient'
under the test's rules. Only 20 percent of boys did.
To put it another way: ...
If all the boys moved to their own state, it would rank 37th of the 41 states that NAEP tested. ...
Theories abound for the gap. Some say ... teachers often assign writing topics that aren't interesting to boys."
The Gender Gap: Boys Lagging - transcript of segment on 60 Minutes, CBS Television, October 31, 2002.
"Remember when girls became nurses and not doctors? Stenographers, not CEOs? ...
Well, that's not the way it is any more. ... Now, it's the boys who could use a little help in school,
where they're falling behind their female counterparts.
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. ...
there's going to be a cold shower when the country realizes that women are
completely dominating the numbers in professional schools."
Boys, Not Girls, On Worse End Of Education Gap
by Becky Beaupre, Chicago Sun-Times, March 9, 2003:
"For years, educators have worried that girls don't do as well as boys in math and science.
But now, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Illinois school test scores,
educators face a bigger problem: boys lag behind girls--often by a far wider margin--in reading and writing..."
Now Boys Trail Girls, USA Today, September 10, 2002, p. 10.
"In the 1970s and '80s researchers warned that girls were the
ones headed off course. ... Yet today, boys appear to be the
intellectually endangered species. ...
A study released last month ... raises important questions about
why boys are being turned off to academics so early."
A Test Congress Can't Pass
by Krista Kafer, September 12, 2002. Excerpt:
"Now that the kids are back in school, here's a quick test for the
rest of us. But don't worry -- it's an easy one. Just one question:
In almost every academic measure, girls outperform boys. Girls are more
likely to receive academic honors, graduate and go to college.
Boys are more likely to have learning disabilities, fall behind in school
and drop out. Given these facts, Congress should fund a\
multi-million-dollar government program to:
a) Help girls achieve more, b) Help boys achieve more, c) Help all students succeed.
If you're like most folks, you picked either "B" or "C." But if you're a
member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you probably selected "A."
The Gender Gap: Boys Lagging, CBS News, October 31, 2002,
"... Girls are graduating from high school and college and going into
professions and businesses in record numbers.
Now, it's the boys who could use a little help in school,
where they're falling behind their female counterparts."
"Will boys be boys? Society is turning against boys when
what they need is help", John Leo, U.S. News, July 17, 2000
"Lost Boys" by Amy Benfer. Caption: "While girls surge ahead in all
subjects at school, boys are lagging behind. Is 'girl power' to blame?
Do boys need their own dose of 'empowerment'?"
Glenn Sacks writes extensively on issues facing men. Here are some
strong articles he's written on anti-male bias in schools:
Why Males Don't Go to College:
"Part of the reason it is difficult and unpleasant to be a male college
student today is that anti-male bigotry pops up by surprise all the time
in the most unlikely places."
Boys: The New Underclass in American Schools,
Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, April 15, 2002.
"Boys at all levels are far more likely than girls to be disciplined,
suspended, held back, or expelled. By high school the typical boy is
a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing,
and is less likely to graduate high school, go to college, or graduate
college than a typical girl. Boys are three times as likely to receive
a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as girls,
four times as likely to commit suicide, and far more likely to
fall victim to teen drug or alcohol abuse. By every index, our
schools are failing our boys. Yet little is being done about it."
The Boy Parent Dilemma,
Los Angeles Daily News, 9/6/02.
"As we send our young sons back to school, millions of parents
of boys are apprehensive, dreading the pain of the 'boy parent dilemma.'
Modern schools are not suited to boys' personalities and learning styles."
Hate My Father? No Ma'am!:
"Veterans' Day always makes me think of my grandfather ...
This article deals with the sacrifices that men of my father and
my grandfather's generations made, and how these sacrifices are too
often ignored in our modern, anti-male social and political climate."
New Study Finds Myths, Misrepresentations in Women's Studies Textbooks
Popular Women's Studies 101 Textbook: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Glenn Sachs' website
- The May 26, 2003 issue of Business Week devoted its cover story and a substantial
chunk of the issue to the crisis of American boys. Here are some links to
articles in that issue (registration is needed, but free):
When Boys Do Well
Why Can't a Woman Be More Like a Man?
Women earn most of America's Ph.D.'s but lag in the physical sciences. Beware of plans to fix the 'problem.'
by Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute,
The American, March/April 2008.
"Women now earn 57 percent of bachelors degrees and 59 percent of
masters degrees. According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2006
was the fifth year in a row in which the majority of research Ph.D.'s
awarded to U.S. citizens went to women. Women earn more Ph.D.'s than
men in the humanities, social sciences, education, and life sciences.
Women now serve as presidents of Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the
University of Pennsylvania, and other leading research universities.
"But elsewhere, the figures are different. Women comprise just 19
percent of tenure-track professors in math, 11 percent in physics, 10
percent in computer science, and 10 percent in electrical
"So why are there so few women in the high echelons of academic math
and in the physical sciences? ...
"The power and glory of science and engineering is that they are,
adamantly, evidence-based. But the evidence of gender bias in math
and science is flimsy at best, and the evidence that women are
relatively disinclined to pursue these fields at the highest levels
"When the bastions of science pay obsequious attention to
the flimsy and turn a blind eye to the serious, it is hard to
maintain the view that the science enterprise is somehow immune to
the enthusiasms that have corrupted other, supposedly 'softer
academic fields. ...
"American scientific excellence is a precious national resource. It is
the foundation of our economy and of the nation's health and safety. ...
Will an academic science that is quota-driven,
gender-balanced, cooperative rather than competitive, and less
time-consuming produce anything like these results?"
Fewer Boys On Campus
"Where the boys aren't:
Nearly 60 percent of college students are women.
Have men lost their minds?", U.S.News, cover story, February 8, 1999
Gender gap reaches new degree: Some experts worried as women outnumber men at colleges,
Houston Chronicle, June 16, 2003:
"[There is a] national crisis that few people are talking about, some experts say.
In the last 25 years, men have become increasingly sparse on America's campuses.
... In 2000, ... there were 128 women in college for every 100 men.
The U.S. Department of Education predicts this trend will continue,
with 138 women enrolled for every 100 men by 2010. ...
Tom Mortenson, who publishes the
Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter
... attribute[s] the gender gap to an education system that encourages girls to
succeed from an early age but does little to address the needs of boys.
For example, he said, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with special-education needs
and other disabilities, are two or three times more likely to be diagnosed with
attention deficit disorder, are more likely to be held back in school,
are more likely to drop out of school, are less likely to enroll in college
and are less likely to complete a bachelor's degree once in college.
'I think we've been on a feminist agenda to expand the educational opportunities
for girls for 30 to 40 years in this country, and we've simply forgotten about the boys.'"
The Great Divide: The College Gender Gap
by Rebecca D. Petersen, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, July 7, 2006.
"When boys drop out of school, many are at risk of falling into the
juvenile or criminal justice system. Males make up 75-80 percent of
all arrests and account for 93 percent of the prison population. ...
it appears as if our nation's boys are being left behind as the
victimized sex in education both within K-12 and higher education."
Do the math: Girls tops on campuses
by Kay Lazar, Boston Herald, August 31, 2003,
"But the college outlook nationwide is decidedly female. The U.S.
Department of Education reports 128 women for every 100 men at
And the feds project the gap will grow into the next decade.
'It's a disaster for the country. Young men who don't complete
schooling these days have a lifetime of labor-market wreck ahead of
them,' said economist Andrew Sum of Northeastern University's Center
for Labor Market Studies.
Sum co-authored a recent study that traced the growing gender gap
'If this (disparity) was happening to women, you would have 14 task
forces, five presidential commissions and Ted Kennedy jumping up and
down,' Sum said. 'It's been largely ignored because it's not
politically correct to raise it.'
A nation of undereducated men, said Sum, will mean higher
unemployment, a strain on welfare systems, less money contributed to
Social Security, more out-of-wedlock children and a colossal
'marriage squeeze' for women because higher educated females will
have to resort to marrying beneath them.
... Doug Sears, dean of [Boston University]'s School of Education [said,]
'Among education experts, ... the rhetoric is still about how girls are disadvantaged in schools.
[and yet] we're growing an army of underachieving and ordinary guys.'"
Why Males Don't Go to College by Glenn Sacks:
"Part of the reason it is difficult and unpleasant to be a male college
student today is that anti-male bigotry pops up by surprise all the time
in the most unlikely places."
College text study finds women reading hate male
by Ellen Sorokin, Washington Times, April 4, 2002
Males' learning needs ignored?, Arizona Republic, November 1,
"Are males on the verge of becoming an endangered species on college campuses?
... William Draves of the Wisconsin-based Learning
Resources Network thinks so. He estimates that only 35 percent of today's U.S.
undergraduate college students are men ... The problem, Draves says, begins in
elementary school with the refusal to acknowledge that boys and girls learn
differently." Statistics cited include:
-- Boys receive 70 percent of D's and F's.
-- Girls receive 60 percent of A's.
-- Boys are 80 percent of high school dropouts.
A Girls' Club in College (from the May 26, 2003 Business Week cover story on
The New Gender Gap.
"Postsecondary Education Opportunity" covers numerous issues and trends in higher education,
and has extensive information and reports on the crisis in boys in college. Here are links to
several excellent resources they provide:
- Postsecondary Education Opportunity: Gender:
"Males are in serious trouble in higher education. At every step in the educational system,
females are making educational progress and males are not. Opportunity began reporting
specifically on this issue in September of 1995, but in fact most issues since 1992
have reported data that describe the progress for females and lack thereof for males.
... Many other enrollment and demographic analyses reported in Opportunity have addressed the
gender disparities we find throughout education data."
College Participation by Gender Age 18 to 24, 1967 to 2000, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, July 2001
Where the Guys Are Not: The Growing Gender Imbalance in College Degrees Awarded, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, February 2001
Projecting Bachelor Degree Recipients by Gender, 1980 to 2000, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, December 2000
Changing Industrial Employment Effects on Men and Women 1939 to 1998, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, May 1999
Where Are the Guys? Men Behaving Badly, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, October 1998
What's Wrong with the Guys? (continued), (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, June 1996
What's Wrong with the Guys? (continued), (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, February 1996
What's Wrong with the Guys?, (PDF doc) Postsecondary Education Opportunity, September 1995
- Postsecondary Education Opportunity report on
Illinois: this is a vital resource on higher education in Illinois,
with several reports on the issue of gender bias in our state.
- Also from Postsecondary Education Opportunity, here are the trends of
Bachelor's Degrees Awarded to Men and Women in Illinois 1970 to 2000,
based on data published by the National Center for Education Statistics.
From this, we've plotted degrees awarded by men (blue) and women. The number of men receiving
undergrad degrees has increased slightly, from 21,501 in 1970 to 23,584 in 2000. However,
the number of women granted degrees has almost doubled in the same period, from 16948 to 31452:
Bachelor Degrees Awarded in Illinois (Count)
The above chart is intriguing. The degrees awarded in Illinois by gender had pulled level by the early 1980s.
But ever since then, an imbalance has opened up and expanded widely -- this time in favor
of girls. As a result, girls are now heavily overrepresented in graduation counts, even worse
than the imbalance that had been in boys' favor back in 1970. In 2000, 57% of bachelor
degrees awarded in Illinois went to women, only 43% went to men.
Bachelor Degrees Awarded in Illinois (Percent)
Where are the boys?
The growing gender gap in higher education:
Postsecondary Education Opportunity says, "We have written an article for the Summer 1999 issue of
The College Board Review
to try to initiate discussion within the education community on the symptoms and
causes of the problems of young males in the education system."
- Additional presentations from
Postsecondary Education Opportunity:
Affirmative Action For Men? Admissions officers walk a fine line in gender-balancing act
by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 2001.
The Gender Equation: Making room for men's gains where women once reigned
by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 2001.
Grad Gender Gap Grows ... Men falling behind women by degrees, Montreal Gazette, July 9, 2003:
"Students are earning a record number of degrees at Canadian universities,
where the gender gap continues to grow ... Universities awarded 175,600 degrees in 2000
... women received 59 per cent of the total degrees awarded.
Only at the doctoral level did men outnumber women in 2000,
but the trend in this male stronghold also suggests this dynamic could be reversed over time.
The number of men earning doctoral degrees dropped by 13 per cent compared with 1995,
while the number of women earning PhDs increased by 33.3 per cent in five years. ..."
Medicalizing Normal Boy Behavior?
As schools adopt teaching methods, curricula, literature and classroom practices that
favor girls, the normal behavior of boys is marginalized and deemed inappropriate.
There is a tremendous concern by many experts that classrooms have turned
into places where girls are praised, but boys are seen as candidates for medical treatment.
There seems to be little question that in many cases, attention and hyperactivity
problems are indeed severe, debilitating, and need correction or treatment of some kind.
But it is also extremely clear that too often children -- particularly boys --
wind up with prescriptions for powerful psychoactive medications,
when no real medical or psychological problem is present.
The following articles offer a basic introduction to this very big concern.
Girls Get Extra School Help While Boys Get Ritalin, editorial, USA Today, August 28, 2003
"In classrooms nationwide, girls are pulling ahead of boys academically.
Recent federal testing data show that what starts out as a modest gap in
elementary-level reading scores turns into a yawning divide by high school.
In 12th grade, 44% of girls rate as proficient readers on federal tests, compared with 28% of boys.
Most startling is that little is being done to correct the imbalances.
All of the major players -- schools, education colleges and researchers --
largely ignore the gender gap. Instead of pursuing sound solutions, many educators
merely advocate prescribing more attention-focusing Ritalin for the boys,
who receive the drug at four to eight times the rate of girls. ...
One fact explains why educators are ignoring boys' needs: You can't address a
problem that you don't admit exists. ...
Today's education system fails many boys.
They deserve the same kind of attention to address why they are losing ground.
by Thomas Sowell. Excerpt:
"The motto used to be: 'Boys will be boys.' Today, the motto seems to be: 'Boys will be medicated.'
Of nearly 20 million prescriptions written last year for drugs to treat 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,'
most were for children and most of those children were boys. This is part of a
growing tendency to treat boyhood as a pathological condition that requires a
new three R's -- repression, re-education and Ritalin."
Many ADHD Symptoms Typical of Normal 'Boy Behavior'
by Jim Brown, May 2, 2003. Excerpt:
"Estimates place the number of children diagnosed with ADHD at between 5 and 7 million.
But Phyllis Schlafly says doctors and pharmaceutical companies are turning behavioral problems into a disorder.
'If you look at the list of symptoms on which people diagnose ADHD,
you will find that they are characteristics of most normal boys --
unable to sit still, has difficulty following directions,
wants to run around and may fidget if required to sit too long;
that sort of thing. This is just normal boy behavior,' she says."
Girls and School
Myth of the Suffering Schoolgirl by Fiona Houston. Caption under the headline:
"The nation's schoolboys are in big trouble. Failure, drop-out rates
and suicides are rising. Boys are lagging behind girls in reading and
writing. Fewer and fewer of them are going on to college.
Our solution? Goofy 'gender-equity' laws."
Girl Power! and Other Idiocy: Government propaganda for boys and girls.
by Christina Hoff Sommers, January 2002.
"[Health and Human Services] 'fact sheets' inform us that 'teachers often defer to male
leadership and social dominance' and that 'girls (more so than boys)
may develop low self-esteem ... and perform less well in school.'
But girls perform better in school than boys. And if teachers are
deferring to male leadership, the students themselves appear to be
unaware of it. In a 1993 Department of Education study of several
thousand tenth graders, 72 percent of girls but only 68 percent of
boys 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' with the statement 'Teachers
listen to what I have to say.'"
"Girls Matching Boys In Science And Math"
Girls Barely Trail Boys in Mathematics.
"Using large national data sets, investigators at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered that -- contrary to
previous research -- U.S. boys hardly surpass U.S. girls in
"Girls Are Not Shortchanged by Schools"
"Girls are Beneficiaries of Gender Gap",
by Diane Ravitch, Wall Street Journal, December 17, 1998
"Mars to Venus: Back off", John Leo, U.S. News, May 11, 1998
"Gender wars redux", U.S. News, February 22, 1999, Excerpts:
"From grade school through college, female students in all ethnic groups
receive higher grades, even in math, obtain higher ranks, and receive more
honors, except in science and sports. ...
More girls than boys (59 percent to 57 percent) said they are called on often,
and more boys than girls (67 percent to 63 percent) report that teachers won't
let them say things they want to say. ...
By overwhelming margins ... teachers give more attention to girls.
Around three quarters of boys and girls said teachers compliment girls more often,
think they are smarter, and prefer to be around girls. ...
"The truth is that our schools have many flaws, but the
oppression of females isn't one of them. The educational status of boys,
not girls, is the real problem. Boys as a group, particularly minority boys,
are falling behind, getting lower grades, suffering more emotional difficulties,
getting punished far more frequently, dropping out more often, and reading
and writing at levels that are appalling by girls' standards.
One recent study finds that males account for 70 percent of all alienated students.
If we put ideology aside, which gender do we think needs help now?"
The Myth of the Suffering Schoolgirl"
How the AAUW and the Congress double-teamed America's schoolboys"
"What I Learned on Take Your Daughter to Work Day", or,
"An eighth-grade girl helps grown-ups face facts."
Time Out for Fairness: Women for Title IX Reform, Independent Women's Forum,
April 2003 (PDF report)
Boys Lag Behind, but Extra Help Goes to Girls
by Krista Kafer, School Reform News, September 2002
Wasting Education Dollars: The Women's Educational Equity Act:
This study by Krista Kafer of the Domestic Policy Studies Department of the
Heritage Foundation concludes:
"Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released a congressionally
mandated study, Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women. On the
basis of an analysis of 44 indicators--including academic achievement and
behavioral outcomes--researchers concluded that 'By most of these measures,
females are doing at least as well as males.' ... In fact, with regard to
most academic measures, girls equal or outperform boys, and their success
continues into adulthood. The gender gap in language tests, drop-out rates,
Advanced Placement participation, honors courses, and other indicators
favors girls. The gender gap favoring girls in reading and writing is
three times as large as the gap favoring boys in science and math. ...
Without the gender inequity that served as the rationale for the
gender programs, there is no justification for retaining the Women's
Educational Equity Act in the final ESEA bill."
Girls and College
From our page on education quotations, here are the entries on
gender issues -- boys and girls in schools:
"There is evidence that the female advantage in school performance is real and persistent."
-- U. S. Department of Education, 2000
"Just when you thought nothing new could be added to progressive
education's long catalog of failures, yet one more has come to light
-- and it is a particularly grave and far-reaching failure.
For progressive ed, I would argue, is responsible for the epidemic
of underachievement among boys in British state schools, now so deep
and widespread that it is taking on the proportions of a national crisis.
... The real culprit is the radical shift in teaching methods and
in the content of the school curriculum that progressive education has wrought.
... Lost utterly, too, was any kind of rigor in instruction.
... The school dropped formal training in literacy and numeracy
in favor of 'project learning' -- play-like, unstructured, open-ended work,
done in groups.
... Progressive ideology rejected the very idea that getting answers
right was important.
... The brunt of all this fell most disastrously on boys -- who, it turned out,
tempermentally depended much more than girls on the principles of traditional
education: discipline, structure, and competition.
... One key reason why girls are doing strikingly better than boys is
that teachers, in accordance with progressivist ideology, now judge
schoolwork in a way that rewards enthusiasm and personal involvement
more than objective knowledge and accuracy.
... School is now designed to be most helpful to the self-disciplined
and self-motivating -- which, during childhood and adolescence, largely
-- Janet Daley, "Progressive Ed's War On Boys",
City Journal (Manhattan Institute), Winter 1999
"Many boys think that their grade schools are boy-unfriendly. I well
remember my son bursting into the kitchen one day after school, yelling
'They want us to be girls, Mom, they want us to be girls!'"
-- Patricia Dalton, "When Did We Lose Sight of Boys?",
Washington Post, Sunday, May 9, 1999
"The poor performance of English boys in relation to girls,
particularly in reading skills, is a relatively new phenomenon.
Various surveys show that, formerly, where sex differences did
occur at the age of 7 or 8, they usually disappeared by the age of 11.
Today, significant differences between girls and boys are still
dramatically apparent in English tests at the ages of 14, 16 and 18.
... However, there is one English-speaking country that is very
similar to England but where no sex differences in reading exist.
That country is Scotland.
... There is one major difference in educational policy between the two
countries. While 1960's child-centred methods of instruction have
radically reshaped the teaching of reading in England, in Scotland
methods have remained more traditional and phonics-based.
It may be that code-based methods of reading instruction are more
advantageous for boys than other methods."
-- Dr. Bonnie Macmillan, "When schools drop phonics, do boys fail to read?",
The London Times, June 13, 1997
"Educators today are intolerant of boys acting like boys. ...
When boys aren't being punished for being boys, they are being medicated
to accomplish the same result. It is revealing that 95 percent of the
kids on Ritalin today ... are boys.
... This view has found its most receptive audience in education,
which is dominated, to a greater extent than other professions, by women.
The result is a commitment to ... monitoring and policing characteristically
male behavior, and getting boys
to participate in 'characteristically feminine activities.'
As a result, our sons think there's something wrong with being a boy.
As Dan Kindlon, a child psychologist, puts it, our sons feel like a
'thorn among roses' and a 'frowned-upon presence' in our schools.
This war that's being waged on sons isn't only cruel; it's culturally disastrous."
-- Charles W. Colson,
"The War Against Boys in Our Schools"
"We spent most of the 1990s fretting about bogus research claiming that
the schools were shortchanging and damaging girls, when the truth is
that boys are the ones in trouble.
Boys are much more likely than girls to have problems with schoolwork,
repeat a grade, get suspended, and develop learning difficulties.
... They are five times more likely than girls to commit suicide and four
to nine times more likely to be drugged with Ritalin.
Student polls show that both girls and boys say their teachers like
the girls more and punish the boys more often.
Girls get better grades than boys, take more rigorous courses,
and now attend college in much greater numbers.
While the traditional advantage of boys over girls in math and science
has narrowed (girls take as least as many upper-level math courses as boys,
and more biology and chemistry), the advantage of girls over boys
in reading and writing is large and stable."
-- John Leo, "Will boys be boys?", U.S.News, July 17, 2000
From the Simpsons:
Principal Skinner [phonily]: Am I wearing women's clothes? I didn't notice. When
I look in my closet, I don't see male clothes or female clothes, they're all the
Edna Krabappel [arms crossed]: Are you saying that men and women are identical?
Skinner: Oh, no, of course not! Women are unique in every way.
Lindsay Nagel [arms crossed]: Now he's saying women and men aren't equal!
Skinner [getting nervous]: No, no, no! It's the differences ... of which there are
none, that make the sameness ... exceptional! [desperately] Just tell me what to say!
[Skinner hyperventilates and faints]
Also see the full page on education quotations.