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Education Opinion

My Beef With the AAUW

By Richard Whitmire — March 04, 2010 1 min read
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In this letter to Edweek AAUW executive director Linda Hallman takes issue with this recent posting I wrote, claiming I’m promoting “gender wars.”

Actually, you won’t see “gender wars” in any of my writing. There’s no war -- just the reality of boys lagging in school at a time when men and women have equal needs for post-high school degrees. And yet here are the numbers: 62 percent of associate’s degrees and 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees go to women.

This issue has little to do with women; these are failings by educators whose job it is to prepare and motivate all students. In accusing me of promoting “gender wars” the AAUW tries to set up a classic “straw man” debate -- claiming something that’s false but easy to refute.

Then Hallman gets serious, and to the point. There are no gender gaps, she argues, just gaps that break out by race and income. My suggestion to Hallman: Peek just beyond your K Street corridor headquarters and you’ll see a Washington where college-educated black women outnumber college-educated black men by three-to-one. How is that not a gender gap?

Those gender gaps are found everywhere. It’s just a matter of degree. I still get emails from teachers at exclusive private schools pondering the gender gaps they experience. What’s happening? they ask.

I understand the sensitivity on this issue felt by groups such as the AAUW and NOW. Conservatives have accused feminists of causing the problems we see with boys. That accusation, however, is without merit. Again, this is about men, not women.

My advice to the AAUW: Get over it. The conservatives are wrong. You’re blameless.

But by trying to block interventions (issuing papers arguing that a separate gender problem doesn’t exist) that could help boys -- without harming girls -- you’ve become part of the problem.

That’s my beef with the AAUW.

The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.