NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Boys Falling Behind

May 30, 2003

There has been a stunning gender reversal in American education, according to Business Week. From kindergarten to graduate school, boys are fast becoming the second sex as women are surpassing them in education:

  • In every state, every income bracket, every racial and ethnic group, women reign, earning an average 57 percent of all bachelors and 58 percent of all master's degrees in the U.S. alone.
  • There are 133 girls getting bachelors for every 100 guys -- a number that's projected to grow to 142 women per 100 men by 2010 according to the U.S. Education Department.
  • To keep their gender ratios 50-50, many Ivy League and other elite schools are secretly employing a kind of stealth affirmative action for boys.

The problem is that boys are developmentally behind girls. Boys are more prone to jump around, challenge authority, and test their limits. This puts them at odds in the traditional learning environments. Consequently, many boys are over prescribed Ritalin or shipped off to special-ed classes.

As boys fall further behind in education, there will be economic and societal consequences:

  • Boys are 30 percent more likely to drop out, 85 percent more likely to commit murder, and four to six times more likely to kill himself.
  • Since 1964, the voting rate in Presidential elections among men has fallen from 72 percent to 53 percent -- twice the rate of decline among women.
  • Corporations will face a skills shortage that could undermine employers' productivity and growth.

Source: Michelle Conlin, "The New Gender Gap," Business Week, May 26, 2003.


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