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What's going on here?  More girls than boys get into colleges these days.  In public education, when they have selective schools that are geared towards college-bound students, girls are more represented three to one.  

Is sexism something of the past?  Something only represented in the percentages of high salaried CEOs?  With traditional 'service jobs' replacing traditionally male production jobs, is this equation changing? As a mother of boys, getting increasinly worried about my own childrens' chances of having a place in an affordable college, these issues are a concern to me.  I'm not really sure what to do with these statistics, but put them out to you and see if you can come up with an answer.  

Harvard has more girls than boys enrolled today.

Today, women make up 57 percent of undergraduates, and the gap is projected to reach 60/40 in the next few years. This year, even manly Harvard admitted more girls than boys to its freshman class.

In all colleges, the gap of boys vs girls is also strong, again at a 60 - 40 split

This trend continues down to the grade schools, where this question was broght up on this blog.

However, the racial imbalance of CPS selective enrollment high schools is not the only disparity that is raising alarm among educators and parents. Should we be equally upset (or outraged) about the gender imbalance that also currently exists in these selective enrollment schools? There are 1,596 girls in the eight selective enrollment high schools as compared to only 933 boys. Thirty-one percent of all female applicants were accepted in 2005 as compared to only 23 percent of male applicants. All but one of the selective enrollment schools maintain at
least a 60 percent/40 percent female-to-male student body ratio. At Brooks College Prep, the female students constitute almost 70 percent of student body.

There have been a lot of diaries on the dailykos about sexism.  When we talk about income disparity, where is it?  When we average incomes, and come up with women earning 80 cents to the man's dollar, is this mostly at the top-earning level?  This seems to be the case.  

The labor statistics at nationmaster (there is no date for this website and I know nothing of its source) show unemployment roughly the same between women and men.  Long term unemployment is slightly higher for men than women.
There are more men working in agriculture and more women working in the service industry, but it's a majority for both genders.  men are still in the industrial sector at a higher rate than females, but the difference is not that big - 30% to 12 %.  The disparity seems to come from the highly professional jobs, such as doctors, where women are at 23%.  Professional women are at 54% (a slight majority), but it seems most of these are in the service industry. Here's the link :

Again, I'm writing this not to make an argument, but to see other people's take on this trend we're seeing in education.  Boys seem to be falling behind.  What does this mean for equality?  

Originally posted to invisiblewoman on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:29 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That would be because girls are smarter than (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    boys. Period. I have two boys and three girls and it doesn't take a rocket scientist in my household to know which gender leans towards education and the other one towards the Xbox.

    The Democratic Congress is now divided into three parts: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:32:47 AM PST

    •  I was wondering this too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Themistoclea, deMemedeMedia

      is it the video game phenomenon that is bringing mainly boys down?  They are spending time on this while girls are reading?  Could be.  

    •  Go to the Krugman link above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for opinions from students themselves. The link takes you to a piece written by a Chicago teacher who, rather than give his own opinion, asked his students why girls are doing better than boys in his Chicago inner city school. Their responses are amazing.

    •  Well, I would hate to generalize (3+ / 0-)

      but trends are trends.

      I do think it is more about a "failure to launch" amongst boys than it is an inherent superiority amongst girls.

      That said, boys do tend to mature more slowly, particularly in their ability to verbalize, and so, I have long noticed how much more fluid and articulate are girls in early years of high school.

      Still, that would not totally explain why boys are living in their parents' basements long after graduating from college and without much more motivation than to continue working their retail job up till age 40.

      I say it's on the boys at this point to find a reason to achieve, and that's one thing that is certainly missing.  In a way, it's like they aren't needed anymore in terms of being the provider and so they are obliging our society by checking out altogether.

      Help new teachers to grow and love their work at

      by Mi Corazon on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:45:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

        it's on the boys at this point to find a reason to achieve

        c A distinct lack of ambition is one of the problem. My seven year-old daughter floored me the other day when she said that she wanted to learn how to learn how to cook because "boys don't cook, they just muck around". Clearly she has her priorities right.

        The Democratic Congress is now divided into three parts: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

        by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:11:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My kitchen was an equal opportunity employer... (0+ / 0-)

          My boys as pre-schoolers 'helped'. Stackable measuring cups, spoons, and mixing bowls with wholes, mulitiples and fractions. Spacial concepts of the 'right size' to fit the amount were good. Following instructions. Planning, starting and finishing a task. It all worked right into math and chemistry. Not to mention having collateral lessons of 'good choices', real rewards and 'family time'. Both my male and female g'kids loved their easy-bake ovens. And they all like playing catch or kicking a soccer ball in the yard.

          Good thing, because my oldest first significant female could barely open a can and select the right temperature to heat the contents up. Then, she had the guts to say that he cooked too much rice and too many veggies.

          It was also a 'good' thing that my dad and g'pa let me help with hammers, screw drivers, wiring, and other stuff while I played with my cousins' erector sets, because it made physics and geometry so much easier.

  •  impulse control and the stress of modern life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would say that the "puppy dog tails" aspects of boyhood no longer meet a grown-up society that calms them down. Things like "sit down and shut up" or "learn how to put in a day's work" were full of BS but had righteous value at the same time, especially compared to always having "ants in your pants" which is the case today. In addition to the stress making boys antsy statistically more than girls because of boy's bad impulse control, there are domination issues about the whole K-12 environment. For boys to submit willingly to the "Teachers Rule" envionment in K-12 they have to be willing to pay a price socially, and they most likely are a little bit predisposed to following authority rather than bucking it.

    Hopefully the boys will catch up later. Maybe in 15 years there'll be a trend of reformed male selfish-holics who've finally gotten it together?

  •  First Question is Where Have the Boys Been Going? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since we're still seeing men outearning women significantly, either this is an extremely new trend in colleges, or else enough of the boys are finding sufficiently rewarding careers outside of college to sustain their overall earning advantage.

    Personally I had a 20 year high tech career --at a university-- without ever graduating. Not even community college. I lost it only due to age and the outsourcing trend.

    I'd wonder where else men are working that gives them the overall advantage. Years ago much of our lost middle class economic ladder rewarded men much more than women, but what about today? Are there paths to higher income men are taking outside of college?

    Second question would be to inquire if the Ritalin/ADHD phenomenon is evidence of increasing social pressure on boys to behave in school in ways that come easier to women. Both my mother and wife, former elementary teachers, believe that early schooling at least has definitely favored girls in many ways as far as behavior and socialization goes, for a long time. Now that we've had time to clear away formal and habitual obstacles to women entering higher ed, perhaps it enables an earlier-education selection pressure favoring women to become visible.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 10:56:27 AM PST

    •  Maybe the earning ineqities we're seeing (0+ / 0-)

      are more based on the trends of the last couple of decades, when women were less likely to go to college than men.  Or there still is favoritism for men at the top.  When you look at averages, the gazillions earned by the CEOs would be enough to show an apparent trend that isn't reflected elsewhere.  

      I tend to think ADHD is undervalued.  Maybe kids with this condition are actually able to do better in the current workplace than their more focused counterparts?  

    •  women still underrepresented in tech/science ed (0+ / 0-)

      Women are still not going into the science and technical programs at the college and graduate level anywhere near as much as men are, whether because of institutional discouragement or not being comfortable with the adversarial male culture already in place in these departments or something else I don't know.

      That would make a big difference in earnings for people who came into the workforce in the last 10-15 years, as many of the higher paying jobs were in technical fields. That may no longer be the case as those are the types of jobs that are being outsourced most quickly to workers in other countries. As you indicate people who came into the workforce in the '70s and first half of the '80s could often get jobs in technical fields without a technical degree, both because the demand for workers was so high and because companies did not have the attitude that you had to come in knowing and having worked with the highly specialized new technology they needed for the latest project--they were more willing to look for general intelligence and provide training. The automated resume scanning systems used by personnel departments helped end that.

      There were also companies that had highly institutionalized sexism as the norm well into the '80s, on a level that most younger women now would be shocked by. Combine that with the companies that were less intentionally sexist but saddled with a disproportionate number of males with seniority because of old practices and you can see the number of different obstacles women have had to overcome just to get to where we are now.

  •  Important question. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Mi Corazon, JanL, invisiblewoman

    Despite many well intentioned people, it is a fact that boys and girls are different.  There are substantial biological differences, and these manifest themselves significantly during their childhood.  Now, that's not to say one is better than the other, only that they interact and learn differently, a distinction that we have, as a society, failed to make lately.

    There was a fascinating PBS documentary, Raising Cain, that addressed exactly this issue, discussing the various changes that have been made in our elementary education that have favored many of the strengths of our girls, but have made life quite difficult for boys.  An example is the decrease or outright elimination of recess.  How young boys responded to some novel approaches from educators was striking (one teacher gives a frequently unruly boy a pass to walk it off in the hallways, and as a consequence his grades have improved substantially!).

    One thing that is absolutely apparent is that there are a multitude of causes, and even more possible solutions.  However, they mostly stem from the appreciation that how our young men and young women respond to the structured environments in our schools is necessarily different, and must be treated so.

    IMPEACH=Rock+Hard Place! Let every Rethug either publicly support the least popular president in 30 years, or admit their president is a traitor.

    by zephron on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:33:34 AM PST

    •  Dr. Leonard Sax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is recommending same-sex classrooms for young boys and girls, and actually, up into high school, just so educators can fine-tune instruction to build the strengths of each gender.

      His book is Boys Adrift and there are schools, apparently quite a few of them that are adopting his ideas.

      Then again, if I were past puberty, I'd probably want to be in the girls' class no matter what:)

      Help new teachers to grow and love their work at

      by Mi Corazon on Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 11:54:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Guesses: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am recalling that girls tend to be 'reading ready' at an earlier age which gives them a 'head start'. Also, they tend to develop small motor skills at an earlier age. Girls color within the lines [small motor skills], boys throw balls [large motor skills].

    Schools are falling way behind in both math and science. Boys have tended to do better in the math and sciences. Interestingly, my niece was talking about math ability have a correlation with a person's positive/negative relationship with their dad.

    Having raised to very active boys in the 70s/80s, schools seemed to be more directed toward girls than boys. They were not dumber, but had different interests. For whatever reason, girls are more socially adept in school situations. I would also think that the teach to testing is playing a role. I would be interested in a 'study' of gender/maturity response to testing situations.

    A quick look at TV shows aimed at girls and those aimed at boys might give us a clue. Are they widening the 'socialization' gender gap?

    The gaming phenom as well as cell phone addiction is NOT good for education while 'computers' cut both ways. Period.

    As a libber who struggled from the other side to not take home ec and take physics, I would say that the socialization of boys enables them to compete better as adults, where the socialization of girls is the opposite with the variables of gender growth and development playing a part.

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