Women stop outperforming, outnumbering men in college

The “war on boys” crowd can rest easy today; a new study shows that the college gender gap that favored for women for so long, has stopped growing.

Men account for 43 percent of overall college enrollment and earn 43 percent of bachelor’s degrees – figures that have remained consistent since the early 2000s.

…After decades of discrimination and exclusion from many campuses, women became the majority on college campuses after 1978, an outgrowth of the women’s rights movement and a drop-off in male enrollment after the end of the Vietnam er

By 1990, the female-male breakdown was 55 percent to 45 percent. The gap widened to 57 percent to 43 percent in 2003 and has been frozen there since, according to the report.

A similar leveling off has taken place with undergraduate degrees. The last time men and women were on even footing in earning bachelor’s degrees was 1980. The gender gap kept growing until it had tilted in favor of women 57 percent to 43 percent in 2000-2001 – and has held steady there since.

As we’ve reported here before – the men who are really affected by the gender gap in college (and who continue to be) are men of color and low-income men. Not exactly the picture painted by the “boy crisis” obsessed media.

I hope this puts an end to the ridiculous media myths surrounding boys, men and education. (Women are doing well – oh noes!) But I’m not holding my breath.

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  1. TD
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    As we’ve reported here before – the men who are really affected by the gender gap in college (and who continue to be) are men of color and low-income men.
    This is incorrect. Yes men of color and low income men show a more pronounced gap, but that gap remains present at all levels. The AAUW Study was particularly sloppy at addressing this very issue.

  2. Comrade Kevin
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Until very recently, many men found they could find employment in specialized fields or start-up businesses that didn’t necessarily need a college degree to qualify. When even a blue collar male worker in an automobile plant makes more than a first-year teacher in K-12, therein lies the discrepancy writ large.

  3. jellyleelips
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I get so damn sick of this shit. Why should I feel any sympathy that women are outperforming men (read: white, middle-class, able-bodied men) in education, when American men didn’t seem to give a shit that not only were they outperforming women, they were EXCLUDING THEM CATEGORICALLY from most colleges for centuries? Honestly. Where were all the men clamoring for women to be given a fair shake? I’m doing the same homework they’re doing, it’s not my damn fault if I’m doing it better.

  4. TD
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    For that blue collar worker to earn more than a teacher they likely have a technical ticket of comparable length. Whats more they have to deal with boom and bust cycles of the economy, while the teacher is pretty much set for life so long as they don’t get caught having sex with a student.

  5. dawn_of_the_bread
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I have a real problem with this sort of attitude. The fact is that before the 20th century universities were almost exclusively the preserve of the rich and the privileged, with men doing horrible jobs in factories and the fields without the benefit of labor unions and in terrible conditions, being exploited by the upper classes. Historically universities have excluded Jews, men of color and even men who were not members of society’s dominant religion.

  6. onlynow
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with this. I read the whole AAUW report, and am sorry to say I found it to be a rather shameless bit of spin and reality distortion.
    The data shows that the educational achievements of males is static, or slightly improving, depending on the data set. The contention of the AAUW is that this is all OK – that boys and men are not being harmed. But static or slightly improving educational achievements ARE NOT OK in a fast changing world, with ever increasing technological complexity, a shift from manufacturing to a service economy, and most importantly, the quickly rising educational level in developing countries around the world. In this context, the educational level of ALL our children need to be increasing. The fact that girls’ achievements have met that standard, but boys’ have not, is indeed a problem. It is a problem for those boys, and for the economic competitiveness of the country.
    To judge the performance of boys by the standards of 1970, as the AAUW does, and to declare all is well because their performance hasn’t declined over the 40 years, is a silly and specious argument. The real standard is not only the performance of US girls, but the performance of other children, boys and girls, around the world.
    I certainly don’t have any complaint about the improved educational status of women over the last 40 years. But I am the parent of 3 boys, and I want to see them grow up in a society that educates all children equally well. The data does show that boys are now disadvantaged in K-12 education, which results in a lower college enrollement. This type of obfuscation by the AAUW is just not helpful for anyone.

    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I’m one of those blue collar workers.
    I’m a union carpenter in New York City.
    My “technical ticket” [by which I think means my educational background - I've never heard that idiom before] was I attended a union-run, employer-funded, tuition-free trade school [the New York City District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College - yeah, I know it's a long ass name] one night a week for 4 years.
    I worked during the day as an apprentice carpenter while I was in carpenter school – when I finished my education, I became a journeylevel carpenter.
    I make $ 43.25/hr and I have really good health insurance.
    Now, like most union carpenters, I basically work on a ‘casual labor’ basis – that is, I get called to jobs and when they are done with me they lay me off on the spot.
    But up until the present crisis I’ve usually made $ 40,000 a year or so – and because I don’t work all the time, I’ve had enough time to cultivate a second career as a freelance writer.
    I know carpenters who work full time for contractors who make over $ 100,000 a year.
    Yeah, the money’s not like that now, but when the economy picks up, the work hours (and the money) will come.
    Meanwhile, we can collect unemployment ($ 405 a week for 26 weeks in New York State – plus a 13 week temporary extension because of the economic crisis) and most of us have some other alternate way to make money that we do on the side.
    I actually briefly changed careers and went into education – vocational ed for a while, then I worked as a special ed paraprofessional – but I found that I made a hell of a lot less money and worked a whole hell of a lot more hours as an education professional, so I went back to carpentry.

  8. EndersGames
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Because they aren’t the men who kept women out of education and jobs. They’re the generation that by and large actively supports the education and advancement of women. We’re the generation that mentors and encourages young girls to enter college in record numbers.
    The current construction of masculinity does not enable many young boys to reach their full academic potential. If you have sons, or know young males whose future you care about, then that is a reason to give a shit.
    Maybe it is my role as a teacher, but it sickens me when people don’t care about improving the academic abilities and opportunities of young girls… and boys. It’s bullshit to try and justify not caring about that.

  9. EndersGames
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    The title of this post is completely incorrect. It should read “Women Still Outperforming, Outnumbering Men in College” OR “Women Still Outperforming, Outnumbering Men in College, But Gap Ceases to Grow”.

  10. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    How are boys disadvantaged in K-12? Honestly? I don’t understand it. One of two arguments I hear is that schools are too feminine and ordered and don’t let the boys be rambunctious as they are wont to do, you know, because it’s “natural” (since girls are naturally stationary and frilly). When, of course, the educational model where students SIT DOWN isn’t exactly new. The second argument I hear is that since K-12 teachers are disproportionately female, boys are being forced to learn from stupid simpering women. Again, I have the same answer to this that I do to the achievement gap in general: why aren’t men then taking jobs as high school teachers if it’s such a big fat fucking deal?
    I want to draw everyone’s attention to the last line of the article:
    “At the same time, we must acknowledge the fact that women continue to comprise the majority of low-income and first-generation college students and remain underrepresented in traditionally male fields like engineering and computer science,” said Sax, author of “The Gender Gap in College: Maximizing the Developmental Potential of Women and Men.” “Their needs ought not be overlooked.”

  11. davenj
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    “I’m doing the same homework they’re doing, it’s not my damn fault if I’m doing it better.”
    Said the male college student in 1960.
    Said the male engineering student today.
    Categorical exclusion of women from universities was wrong. Unequivocally and without question. But what does that have to do with this, aside from the obvious fact that sexist hypocrisy exists?
    Why did men outperform women in education in the 1960′s? Why do women outperform men now?
    If we have a problem with uneven distribution of women getting engineering and medical degrees (and we sure as heck should), we should also be concerned with the uneven distribution of men getting bachelor’s degrees.
    There are many factors for the current ratio of undergraduates, not just some simplistic notion that “women do the same homework better”. Some are economic, some social, and some educational.
    You say you feel no sympathy for women outperforming men, but then feel the need to qualify “men” as “white, middle-class, able-bodied men”. Ignoring the fact that you exclude things like discrimination based on sexuality, religion, and a whole slew of other things from your qualifying statement, there’s the simple fact that A TON OF AMERICAN MEN DON’T MEET THAT DEFINITION AND ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY THIS EXISTING PROBLEM.

  12. dawn_of_the_bread
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry that was meant to be a reply to jellyleelips

  13. Athenia
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Back in the day though, when only men could be teachers, being a teacher wasn’t exactly the most “manly” of professions either. It was the profession that “lazy” (read: not farmers) men went into.
    In other news, learning by movement memory can help ALL students, not just boys. Geez.

  14. TD
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Many of the trades use ______ ticket to refer to the certification level, I’m not entirely sure if I used the correct catchall phrase. But welders can make very good money, with the proper certifications, and can make money comparable to teachers with similar amounts of experience.
    The job you described is not that far off from what you could say about many teaching jobs, lots of free time decent wages, except your faced with instability of the job market in a way they aren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if it all balances out in the long run.

  15. davenj
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a femininity issue, but when boys get into trouble in school they’re more likely to draw negative attention from teachers, as well as a persistent negative reputation between teachers, which puts a rambunctious first-grader on track to be a “problem student”, at times a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Boys and girls both misbehave. Buy boys bear the brunt of punishment and labeling as being misbehaving children.

  16. TD
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    How are boys disadvantaged in K-12? Honestly? I don’t understand it.
    Boys are much more likely to be disciplined, and disciplined more harshly, for the same misbehavior. On top of that there are many programs exclusively available to girls which are not available to boys in a single sex or coed opportunities. On top of that any testing measure which finds a bias in favor of boys is attempted to be revised, while biases in favor of girls are often ignored.
    Another issue I heard but have not read the research on yet was that focusing on legibility at an early age may favor girls biologically, and then leads to boys being more frustrated with work.
    I want to draw everyone’s attention to the last line of the article:
    You know I was in a discussion of the gender gaps in various degrees. Interesting things occured, the gap had closed significantly and reversed itself in math, biology, biochem, and civil engineering (in the sample studied). The response was to not consider these “hard sciences” because it didn’t support the theory.
    Other times they looks at distributions which were approximately 50/50 as evidence of ‘gender bias’ because the university as a whole was 40/60.

    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never heard anybody in the New York trades refer to a “technical ticket” – that may be a term used in other parts of the US, or in Canada, or England, or the Persian Gulf States, but I’ve never heard it here.
    People who came up on the union side like I did speak of having “done an apprenticeship” in their trades and now they are a “journeyman” (or, the nonsexist term I prefer “journeyperson” – and, of course, there are women in the trades who speak of being “journeywomen”) in their particular trade.
    And going to apprentice school is nothing like going to college.
    Most of the written tests are open book, and 90% of the time you are in a shop class-type environment, learning how to build stuff. The instructors will bend over backwards to make sure you do not fail – basically, if you show up every day, you will graduate.
    And most of what you learn is taught to you in the field, by foremen and experienced journeypeople.
    I know I learned everything I know about the main subdivisions of carpentry that I work in (office furniture installation, metal storefront installation and trade show installation and dismantling work) in the field – I only learned the basics in carpenter school (how to use basic handtools, and the basics of building sheetrock walls and installing the wooden forms that are used to pour concrete structures).

    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I think some people are missing the point here.
    More women than men go to college for a crudely simple reason – because in general, women are paid less than men of equal skill levels.
    Here’s an example – the City of New York pays it’s childcare workers (who have to have a BA and are mostly women) only $ 35,000 a year, but it pays it’s sanitation workers (who only have to have a high school diploma and a drivers license) $ 57,000 a year.
    And that’s not just an anomaly – that’s a general pattern up and down the economy.
    Since this pattern (men with high school educations making more than women with college educations) women basically have to go to college to make anywhere near what their high school educated male peers make.
    This is not a question of colleges somehow “discriminating against men” – it’s a question of women disproportionately needing to get a college education because society and the business community as a whole economically discriminate against women.

  19. kandela
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The second argument I hear is that since K-12 teachers are disproportionately female, boys are being forced to learn from stupid simpering women.
    I’m one of those who thinks that having a hugely disproportionate number of female teachers can be detrimental to boys, and it’s not because I think female teachers are bad at their jobs.
    We talk all the time about having women as role-models in certain disciplines being important for young girls. Well, same thing here. If boys are associating learning at a young age only with women, they will begin to get a concept of their gender role as one that doesn’t include education.
    I have the same answer to this that I do to the achievement gap in general: why aren’t men then taking jobs as high school teachers if it’s such a big fat fucking deal?
    Gee, I don’t know, maybe it’s the patriarchy telling men that their role in society doesn’t including teaching or mentoring young children. Maybe it has something to do with not being encouraged into nurturing roles when they are young, never being given dolls to play with, not being given tips on childcare in magazines targeted at them, or, as adults, being looked upon with suspicion when they approach young kids?

  20. kandela
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    You’re right. It’s not just misleading. It’s actually wrong.

  21. onlynow
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    “The second argument I hear is that since K-12 teachers are disproportionately female, boys are being forced to learn from stupid simpering women. Again, I have the same answer to this that I do to the achievement gap in general: why aren’t men then taking jobs as high school teachers if it’s such a big fat fucking deal?”
    There have been several good studies that demonstrated that a the sex of a teacher has a positive effect on same-sex students, but a negative effect on opposite-sex students. This is easily understood from the perspective of positive role models. Since the K-12 teaching staff is 85%-90% female, this imparts an advantage to female students.
    Why aren’t men taking jobs as high school teachers? Why aren’t more women taking jobs as computer scientists? Both sexes face psychological barriers to enter professions that are dominated by the other sex. The barriers for males are arguably higher, as there has been little push in society to encourage males to consider historically female professions. I think it would certainly be a good idea to encourage more men to go into K-12 teaching.
    The other issue that boys face is that they simply mature physically and mentally at a slower rate than girls. MRI studies that tracked the development of different regions of the brain of both girls and boys show that the girls’ brains mature 1 to 4 years earlier, with different regions maturing at different rates. Overall, the average 15 year old girl is equal in brain maturity to an 18 year old boy. Why this disparity in physiological development occurs is not clear, but it is clear that this is a disadvantage to the boys, and that our current educational system does not take this difference into account.

  22. kandela
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m just guessing here but I assume you identify as a feminist. This generally means you care if a group of people are being systematically disadvantaged. That’s a good reason to feel sympathy.
    Another reason might be that a boy born today is born today, he didn’t discriminate against your grandmother or your mother or you. But if you are happy to go along with a system that discriminates against boys then you are discriminating against him.

  23. kandela
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Actually I think that is a feminist issue.
    The Feminism 101 page defines what feminists want as:
    To end the perpetuation of gender expectations that, on balance, harm women.
    You’ll notice the ‘on balance.’ If there is an expectation that boys are more trouble and that is having negative consequences then that is a feminist issue.

  24. onlynow
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t even exclude the “white, middle-class, able-bodied men” from the sympathy, if we’re discussing boys in school. They aren’t the patriarchal oppressor enemies, and won’t ever be if we teach them well.

  25. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m aware of the problems people have with men and young children interacting. I just take issue with the idea that this somehow becomes the fault of female teachers in the media.

  26. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    “In other news, learning by movement memory can help ALL students, not just boys. Geez.”
    If that snark is directed at me, it’s not warranted. I didn’t say that schoolchildren SHOULD sit down all day. I just said that they DO and they HAVE for a while, and it’s not women’s influence in schools that is necessarily to blame for this, which is how the media portrays it.

  27. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Hm, true. I bet boys get the vast majority of ADHD diagnoses, too.

  28. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Okay, by that comment I did not mean that boys should not be given help when they need it. By “sick of this shit” I meant “sick of the media portraying this as some excuse to have a massive panicked freakout, start rolling back programs for girls, and blame women for men’s failures, as the media already does ad nauseum.”

  29. jellyleelips
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Oh my freaking God people. How is it not obvious that I am talking about the media freaking out and blaming women? Where do I say that we should actively try to keep boys’ performance levels low? The reason why I singled out white, middle class, able-bodied men is because this media freakout is due to the fact that WOMEN ARE DOING BETTER THAN THEM. Not because they don’t deserve the right to an equal education. Nowhere did I say that boys should be punished for the sins of their fathers.
    And, about the “I’m doing the same homework” comment. Just because I received benevolent sexism as a girl in education does not mean that completely erases hundreds of years of discrimination against women in education. Institutionalized sexism, as Gregory Butler said above me, forces women into this position, to do better in school. It’s not my damn fault if boys feel entitled to avoid doing homework or if they feel restricted. I went to through the same damn school system they did, dealing with their sexist bullshit in the hallways every day, being prepared to enter an equally sexist broader society, and I did great. If they didn’t when they ran those halls, then they should have worked harder.
    Saying “I did the same homework, tough luck” is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT when a girl who succeeded in an education system that wasn’t even made for her says it, than when a man with significantly higher institutionalized privilege says it. Even if it is wrong. Which it is.

  30. davenj
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Femininity, not feminist. This is a feminist issue. But the problem faced is not so much that girls display femininity, but rather that the cultural perception of boys is one that portrays them as inherently more prone to bad behavior.
    Expectations like this foster disengagement and resentment, which only leads to further misbehavior.

  31. onlynow
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    “It’s not my damn fault if boys feel entitled to avoid doing homework or if they feel restricted.”
    I agree, it isn’t. And congratulations on your success.
    I work every day to make sure my boys don’t “feel entitled to avoid doing homework”.

  32. davenj
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Like you would not believe. Doesn’t help that boys and girls develop at different paces, too, and that while these differences even out by adulthood they can be incredibly pronounced in youth.
    A slow-developing boy is miles behind a girl of the same age when it comes to impulse control. Failing to account for these problems leads to a disparity in quality of education for these boys.
    In the case of my younger brother he was a July child, young for his class already, and slow to develop to boot. He was diagnosed with ADHD in the SECOND GRADE and my parents were told in no uncertain terms to medicate him up to his eyeballs or pull him out of school. Not to mention the reputation he developed within the administration which led to teachers being “forewarned” of him (read: targeting him).
    Not until seventh grade was he able to go to school sans medication. At that point he thrived, in spite of the fact that he spent half a decade under the thumb of a judgmental school administration that figured that the behavior of a seven year old boy somehow predicted academic potential.
    He’s currently a sophomore at college and kicking tail in the English program at a prestigious private university on a scholarship. But he was lucky enough to have parents and family who supported him in spite of his “misbehavior” and fought tooth and nail to get him a fair shake.
    Without his support system I have no doubt my brother, or a boy in his same situation, would be completely disillusioned with education, and tracked for failure by a system that figured that having bad impulse control at age seven was indicative of his entire potential.
    Both genders face problems in education. Both deserve fair, equitable solutions.

  33. TD
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking in terms of welders (based on the original statement about automobile workers). In welding there is a massive degree of specialization, thus a each particular type of welding comes with a specific ‘ticket’ about the type of welding the person is trained and certified to do and by who. I recall welders for Boeing can pull in over 120,000 annually, but they reached that point through extensive certification of their skills for that type of welding.

  34. EndersGames
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    No one is upset with you for being annoyed with the panic or hype in some media that pits men against women, or for noting that some factors (gendering of jobs, types of jobs available) push women harder into academia than other high paying or stable jobs (e.g., sanitation, carpentry, military, etc.)
    The problem is you are using broad sociocultural factors to understand your/women’s challenges and experiences, and then completely ignoring that for boys, placing all the explanation for their behaviors and challenges on their own personal traits. Let’s not have a double standard here- one standard will do just fine.
    We were upset because you were completely dismissing the cultural factors that are forced onto boys that push them out of valuing or openly valuing intelligence. The construction of masculinity has changed over time to the point that boys are rewarded for being tough and not academically inclined. You continue to be dismissive of that, which was what was pissing people off. It’s a real problem, and one that needs collective action to fix. Not because it’s a men vs. women thing, but because it’s a matter of raising knowledgeable citizens who can think critically and reach their full potential.

  35. TD
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    when a girl who succeeded in an education system that wasn’t even made for her says it
    Isn’t this something which is in question? There wasn’t a single course or opportunity in my school which was barred to girls. After school I can think of only one program which was strictly available to boys. Girls had several dozen programs to teach them math, science, reading, writing, leadership, politics, they had programs to get them into special departments of university only available to them.
    To compound this in the lower grades none of the teachers kept it a secret that they considered girls better than boys.
    On top of this average grades were approximately a point higher for girls. So I don’t see how my schools at the very least weren’t structured in every way for girls.

  36. Brett K
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. In this day and age, college doesn’t even provide all that great of an advantage, career-wise – but for women, it may be the only advantage we have. As you pointed out, many of the jobs that are available to women WITH a university degree still pay less than typically male jobs that do not require a degree. Women without degrees are very often stuck in minimum-wage service industry jobs, because the culture around us tells us that high-paying trades and skilled labour are exclusively for men.
    I sympathize with parents who worry that their sons are going to have difficulties in school and a smaller chance of getting a higher education, I really do. But until we a) deal with the societal problems that cause boys to perform lower in school (which I believe have nothing to do with “discrimination” against boys in public schools and everything to do with the fact that we do not raise boys to value skills like reading and empathizing with others – all of which is due to PATRIARCHY) and b) start paying more attention to the fact that those boys, with or without a college education, will probably make more money than your average college-educated woman (such as myself), I just can’t bring myself to care all that much.

  37. kandela
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I agree with all your points. They are well made.
    I do think you should care though. If for no other reason than intersectionality. As long as all those problems you mentioned affecting women, continue to affect predominantly women a large section of the community won’t believe there is a problem and it will be a lower priority to be fixed.
    Having an affinity with children is valuable in and of itself. Men by and large don’t have this trait to the same degree as women thanks to their upbringing. The only statistics we have for this are the numbers employed in teaching and childcare; this represents one end of the Bell curve, but it is indicative of reduced skills on the average.
    What this means is that in addition to less men being employed in childcare, women are being obliged to take on a higher workload at home.
    Until we start recognising the value of childcare in our community and start paying those who are doing it a higher wage, it will continue to be seen as a job just for women.
    I’m doing a bad job of linking all these things together, but the number of men in childcare, the workload of women at home, the low kudos we give chilcare workers and the education we are giving to boys are all related. A multi-faceted approach to the problem is what is needed. If we don’t care enough about one facet of the problem then the solutions to the other facets will take longer to be achieved.

  38. kandela
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Oh right. I misread your comment, sorry.

  39. davenj
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Unless, of course, those boys who receive an inferior education end up in jail. But hey, I’m sure the fact that boys have more trouble within the education system, and are more likely to be labeled troublemakers, has nothing to do with social disillusionment and potential disregard for the law.
    Jails are populated OVERWHELMINGLY by men. So are juvenile detention centers.
    Of course we need to give women access to better, more stable jobs that don’t require a college degree. But that’s not a reason to ignore another very serious, very gendered problem.
    It’s too bad that you just can’t bring yourself to care too much about this, because it’s a serious problem. But hey, next time you find a problem and the sympathy reservoirs of others run dry you’ll have this novel experience to look back on and understand where they’re coming from.

  40. Brett K
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you completely. Generally speaking, I am very concerned about the way our society constructs masculinity, and particularly the way we suppress and discourage nurturing traits in men and boys. This has the result of both devaluing hugely important tasks such as childcare, since those tasks are considered feminine and therefore unimportant, as well as restricting the ways in which men can express their identity. I’ve always been very convinced that patriarchy hurts men too (albeit not as much as it hurts women) and this is a clear example of that. I’d love to see more men in education and childcare – because this would provide children with greater diversity in their role models, and because I believe these would be incredibly fulfilling tasks for many men, should they choose to take them up. So yes, you’re absolutely right. I should care, and I do. I didn’t mean to suggest that I don’t care about any issues surrounding men and masculinity.
    On the other hand, this imagined “boy crisis” and our education systems being “feminized” and discriminating against the poor oppressed men? I can’t say I’m all that concerned.

  41. Brett K
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Seriously? In Canada, teachers have to have a Master’s degree at the very least, which means five years of full-time postsecondary education. That’s a significant amount of time out of the labour force, and it’s not cheap, either. Many countries now have a surplus of teachers as well, which means that it’s often difficult for qualified teachers to find full-time work, and teachers have a pretty good chance of getting laid off unless they have tenure. Add to that the fact that teachers make WAY less than $40/hour, which is a pretty standard wage for a tradesperson, and the fact that teaching is a really difficult, stressful and extremely important job… Yeah. Just because they get the summer off (and not everyone gets that; someone has to teach summer school) doesn’t mean teaching is an easy job, and certainly doesn’t mean teachers are being paid enough for what they do.

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