Trends in the gender gap in education

GIV was the driving force behind this article in the Burlington Free Press

As guidance counselor Kathy Batty doled out tips on organization to a classroom of girls and boys in the sixth grade, she did not mention the words “gender,” “achievement,” or “gap.”

Nor did she overtly target any part of the lesson to the boys in the class. But the four-part mini-course designed to improve “executive function” — planning, follow-through and time-management — was created to help remedy a persistent problem involving boys in Vermont and beyond.

Boys are lagging behind girls academically by many measures, especially when it comes to literacy.

At Charlotte Central School — a high-performing, low-poverty school — the problem is less acute than it is state or nationwide. But even here, girls significantly outscore boys in writing and at many Vermont schools, girls dominate in both reading and writing and are essentially neck-and-neck with boys in math and science.

Girls tend to earn better grades and claim more slots in the National Honor Society and earn the ranks of valedictorians and salutatorians.

This stronger high school preparation has pushed the gender gap into higher education. Nationally, women earn 58 percent of college degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees. That’s a dramatic contrast to the situation 45 years ago when many women skipped or were excluded from college. If they did enroll, they were often expected to seek an M.R.S. degree — that is find a husband and not worry about academics.

The recent trends, which have been building for over a decade, have not yet changed the reality that men earn more than women on average and dominate the upper echelons of the corporate and political world, as well as the high-paying technology sector.

Thus for every alarm that sounds about boys’ underachievement, several more sound about the plight of women. And the biggest headlines often go to books focusing on ways women can break through the so-called glass ceiling, as seen with one of the most-talked about recent titles, “Lean In” by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Read at the Burlington Free Press

Kaomi Taylor Mitchell

Kaomi Taylor Mitchell

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