Even though more women and girls are getting college degrees and scoring in the top ranks on national math tests than was the case in the 1970s, their academic gains have not come at the expense of boys, says a report by the American Association of University Women.
Some researchers and advocates have made the case in recent years for a “boys crisis” in education, pointing out, for instance, that boys have begun to trail girls on key academic indicators, such as in rates of enrollment in and graduation from college.
But the AAUW, the Washington-based group that sparked a national debate about gender disparities in education with a report issued 16 years ago, contends bluntly in its new report that the fears about boys are overstated.
It also says that gender differences within racial and ethnic groups are small compared with the academic gaps that separate students of different income levels or different racial and ethnic groups.
While girls still outperform boys overall on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, for example, a closer inspection shows that the gaps are most pronounced and most consistent between white male and female students. Among whites, girls outscored boys on 29 of the 30 NAEP reading tests given since 1975.
But Hispanic girls outperformed Hispanic boys on fewer than half those tests, the report says, and African-American girls outscored their male counterparts on 24 of the 30 tests.
A version of this article appeared in the June 04, 2008 edition of Education Week