????????It’s common knowledge that girls are performing better than boys at every academic level, including college where they earn 57 percent of the college degrees that are conferred.  The Science Daily article, “Boys’ Lack of Effort in School Tied to College Gender Gap,” reports that two sociologists, Ohio State sociology professor Claudia Buchmann, and Columbia University sociology professor Thomas DiPrete, have researched the reasons for boys’ poor performance.  Those findings have been compiled in a new book, The Rise of Women:  The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools.

The researchers point to various theories about the reasons for boys’ lack of achievement.  The researchers found that some people assert that schools are too “feminized” in that they don’t address boys’ learning style.  They argue that single-sex education is the answer, but Buchmann and DiPrete found no evidence to support this claim.  Also, it has not mattered so much in the past that girls outperform boys because there were plenty of blue-collar jobs available to them, making college of less importance.  With the advent of better employment opportunities for women, girls have more incentive to earn college degrees.

Buchmann and DiPrete note that boys and girls are similar in intellectual ability at every level, but boys do not perform as well as girls at any of those levels.  Buchmann asserts,  “Success in academics, like success in sports, requires time and effort. Because boys put forth less effort and are less engaged, they get lower grades and are less likely to get through college.”

Boys simply do not try as hard to perform well in school, but why?  It appears that the boys are governed by “outdated views of masculinity.  Their view of masculinity–especially within the blue-collar and lower-income communities–puts less value on hard work and trying in school.  On the other hand, boys from middle-class families see school as “instrumental” in getting a good job, even if they don’t like school.

Since the top third of boys, those from middle-class backgrounds, Buchmann believes that the focus should be on boys in the middle third.  These are the boys who have the ability but who earn mostly B’s and a few C’s.  She believes that schools should do the following:

  • Expect high levels of effort and academic achievement of all students, including boys
  • Break down the gendered stereotypes that say that real men don’t work hard in school
  • Do a better job of teaching students about the pathways through college to a good job
  • Start in elementary school but should be especially emphasized in middle and high schools
  • Particularly from grades 7 to 12, make it crucial that boys have learned really good study skills, how to apply one’s self to studies, and how to stay motivated even when the schoolwork is not particularly fun