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Monday, May 19, 2014

Are we neglecting our boys?

      It is hard not to go a week without hearing about an effort to develop a new STEM program for girls.  Many groups seem to be focused on insuring that girls don't fall behind in the new digital world we are rapidly moving into.  This is a worthy effort that deserves attention and resources.  I am someone who feels that most of our institutions would be improved by increasing the number of women in those institutions.  But are these efforts directed at girls overlooking the real gender gap that seems to be growing wider every year?  Boys seem to be falling behind in educational achievement in significant ways.  Here are just a few:

    1) Almost 60% of entering college freshmen are girls
    2) 72% of girls entering high school will graduate compared to 65% of boys.  This is even worse for               African American boys with a graduation rate of 48%. 
    3)   70% of high school valedictorians are girls 
    4) Boys are twice as likely to have a learning disability as girls
    5) Boys are three times as likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder as girls
    6) Boys are twice as likely to be expelled from school as girls
    7) Boys are three times as likely to be arrested for drug abuse as girls
    8) The unemployment rate for male teens 16 to 19 is 4% higher for boys than girls

   The theories for the causes of these differences are many and varied.  Many discuss the difference in maturity of girls and boys.  Girls do seem to show greater maturity and focus on achievement than boys at each age level.  Boys seem to have more difficulty achieving in a classroom that rewards quiet, focused attention.  Boys energy levels might be seen as being disruptive in the traditional classroom setting.  Boys may learn better in a hands on setting than in the didactic setting of a traditional classroom setting.  Some educators even advocate for single sex classrooms or schools.    Maybe schools structured by age should take gender into consideration also.  Boys and girls of the same age may not be at the same level educationally or maturity to learn at the same rate.

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