The gender gap in education has flipped over the past 40 years. Today, for every 100 bachelor’s degrees awarded to women, 74 degrees are awarded to men. This was not the case a half century ago. 

Richard Reeves, a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, has written a book, Of Boys And Men, which details the crisis developing in our country regarding the education gender gap. 

The effort to give girls and women a fair chance in education has been wildly successful. Today, in the average school district, girls are a grade level ahead of boys in English and a course level ahead in Math. In the highest levels of Grade Point Average (GPA), two/thirds are girls. In the lowest level of GPA, two/thirds are boys. 

In college enrollment and completion, there are 10 percent more women than men. These figures show that society has been successful in developing educational opportunities for women over the past 50 years. While this has been a triumph for women, it has exposed a problem with developing opportunities for men.

Source: PRB analysis of data from U.S. Census Bureau.

Some have asserted that this disparity begins at an early age as a result of the differences in the development of brain function in men and women. 

There is little debate that brain development in girls is faster than in boys. The prefrontal cortex of the brain develops slower in boys versus girls. This is the area of the brain that, when fully developed, causes one to do one’s homework instead of playing. It causes one to take a long-term focus on their GPA in high school. This prefrontal cortex develops one to two years earlier in girls than boys. 

Once the pre-1970’s discrimination against girls in education was ended, this natural advantage of a faster development of the prefrontal cortex allowed girls to quickly pass ahead of boys on the education ladder. 

Reeves argues that parents should delay the schooling of boys a year to allow for the slower development of their brain. Reeves also believes that an effort should be made to recruit more male teachers in schools. In the 1980’s, 33% of K-12 teachers were male. Today, there are only 24% male teachers in K-12.

Reeves also contends a greater investment should be made in teaching vocational skills in school. This could help reduce the growing number of men who are not participating in the workforce. Today, there are 9 million men of working age that do not work. 

This disparity has also been influenced by the dad deficit. 1 in 4 dads do not live with their children. If parents split up, 1 in 3 children never see their dad within a few years. 

As the education gap has shifted in favor of women, the pay gap of men over women is slowly changing. Today, 40% of women earn more than the average man. In 2 out of 5 homes, the woman is the main breadwinner. In the past, many women were forced to stay in bad marriages because they could not support themselves. Today, women earning good money are able to leave their husbands if they are not happy. This has an impact on the children, especially the boys. 

This education gap that is resulting in a pay gap has caused many men to feel unneeded in today’s world. This can lead to suicide and a lack of involvement in the society in general.

Boys without a father present suffer much more than girls. This issue is not discussed today because some experts do not wish to offend those couples in same-sex female marriages where there is, obviously, not a father figure.

The educational crisis among men is a serious problem. Society must address the problem in the same manner that they addressed the past discrimination against women in the education arena. 

Efforts can be made to start schooling for boys a year later. More investments should be made in vocational education. Giving young men the tools to earn a good living will help them be better fathers for their children. 

This education gender disparity is a serious issue that should be studied over the next few years. Efforts should be made to help young men get a good education and this will help them be productive members of society.

Bob Spencer
Manatee Herald

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