In recent years, it appears that girls have overtaken boys in terms of education. More girls are going to college and graduating, and they're testing better than boys at earlier levels. This has created a certain level of panic amongst those who find it almost impossible to believe that in an equal playing field, girls simply couldn't possibly be better than boys.
This article does a good job explaining this phenomenon in American public schools, as well as highlighting the panic that it's sent John Q. Public into. As the article illustrates:
A consistent trend emerges across these subjects: There have been no dramatic changes in the performance of boys in recent years, no evidence to indicate a boy crisis. Elementary-school-age boys are improving their performance; middle school boys are either improving their performance or showing little change, depending on the subject; and high school boys' achievement is declining in most subjects (although it may be improving in math).
Importantly, the author says To the extent that tales of declining boy performance are grounded in real data, they're usually framed as a decline relative to girls. That's because, as described above, boy performance is generally staying the same or increasing in absolute terms.
As you can see, there isn't really much of a crisis with boys' education, though they do try to claim it. What I found interesting this morning is that this isn't a uniquely American phenomenon. I was reading Le Monde today, and ran across an article that shows there's a similar thing going on in France, albeit with less panic.
Parallèlement, les filles ont rattrapé, puis dépassé le niveau scolaire des garçons : en 1971, les bachelières étaient plus nombreuses que les bacheliers ; en 1975, les étudiantes plus nombreuses que les étudiants. Aujourd'hui, les filles réussissent mieux leur scolarité que les garçons : elles redoublent moins souvent, ont moins de difficultés en lecture et obtiennent des taux de réussite plus élevés au brevet comme au baccalauréat.
(Please forgive my terrible translation)
Similarly, girls overtook, then surpassed the academic level of boys: In 1971, there were more girls passing le Bac than boys; in 1975, more female college students then male. Today girls are more academically successful than boys: they increase less often, are less difficult in class and obtain the rank of success higher on le Bac.
Despite this academic lead in both the States and France, women aren't coming anywhere near surpassing men in the professional world, either in status or in pay. I'm sure you can find a bajillion citations of this for the States, but in France "Les progrès considérables des performances scolaires des filles ne se sont pas accompagnés d'une amélioration proportionnelle de leur statut professionnel et familial", regrettent Christian Baudelot et Roger Establet dans Quoi de neuf chez les filles ? (Nathan)."
"The considerable progress of women's scholastic performance isn't accompanied by a proportional improvement of their professional or familial status," Christian Baudelot and Roger Establet regret in Quoi de neuf chez filles?"
As you can see, there isn't a real male disadvantage, either in school or work. Men aren't being held back, but aren't progressing at the same levels academically as their female peers, and furthermore maintain their professional status.
So, why the panic? Why did Newsweek print "The Boy Crisis. At every level of education, they're falling behind. What to do?"
—Newsweek cover headline, Jan. 30, 2006
Why are people interested in education all over the internet freaking out? Where's the problem?