Saturday, May 17, 2003

The New Gender Gap: Second Thoughts About The Second Sex?

I grew up a child of the eighties, back when the muticulti/diversity/sensitivity curriculae had not yet been commodified by our Huxleyan PC culture. But I've always had trouble believing the party line that girls were given the short shrift in educational settings, a concern that comes up even today in tech conference post-lecture debates. My own primary subject -- Media Literacy -- is one often considered "soft" by math and technology teachers who claim a dearth of female voices in their classrooms, so the generally equal gender ratio I attract is no strong defense of gender equality, but both my intro and advanced web design classes tend to be more female than male, despite the common citation of coding as one of those things adults want to see as "not seen by girls as for girls, and why not, dammit?"

That's why I found this article in Business Week to be so refreshing. It makes a powerful case that boys are actually much less well served by our modern educational institutions than girls, which takes guts in the minefield of the politically correct culture:
...From kindergarten to graduate school, boys are fast becoming the second sex. "Girls are on a tear through the educational system," says Thomas G. Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington. "In the past 30 years, nearly every inch of educational progress has gone to them."
...At one exclusive private day school in the Midwest, administrators have even gone so far as to mandate that all awards and student-government positions be divvied equally between the sexes. "It's not just that boys are falling behind girls," says William S. Pollock, author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "It's that boys themselves are falling behind their own functioning and doing worse than they did before."

At the risk of sounding unlike the feminist I claim to be, after over twenty years of increasingly sacred and ultimately inequality-perpetuating assumptions about the way social and learning differences between boys and girls play out, it's great to see some solid and wide-ranging evidence say out loud what I have to believe that many of us -- more, I daresay, than will ever be willing to speak up -- have long suspected.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:01 AM |

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