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International Opinion

A Reminder That the ‘Boy Troubles’ Are International

By Richard Whitmire — January 28, 2010 1 min read
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In England, Australia and New Zealand, the problem of slipping academic aspirations by boys is a steady news story. Here, The Telegraph lays out the numbers about British males.

According to the latest figures, 30 per cent of women went into higher education in the mid-90s, compared with 29 per cent of men. But by 2009, the proportion of women on degree courses soared to 40 per cent, against only 32 per cent of men.

For men to match the number of women going into university, an extra 25,000 males would have to enroll, according to these numbers.

The findings are mirrored for men and women from the poorest backgrounds. The proportion of men from deprived areas going on to university increased from 12 to 16 per cent over the last 15 years, but women jumped from 13 to 22 per cent. It reflects recent trends in exam results. At the moment, girls are ahead of boys in assessments taken at the age of five and extend their lead throughout primary and secondary school.

What’s unique about the United States is the lack of debate and attention paid to the topic. The U.S. Department of Education is mum on the subject. Gender gaps are not part of the No Child Left Behind accountability system. As a result, local educators are free to ignore them and focus on the factors that do matter on the score card, race and income. Problem is, solving race gaps appears to be impossible without addressing gender gaps.

Why the deaf ear in this country? It all dates back more than a decade when conservatives exposed the gender gap and blamed feminists, who responded by denying boys were having problems in school. The entire issue became a political untouchable, a standoff that continues into the present.

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.