Is there a gender disparity in academic achievement between boys and girls?Is there a gender disparity in academic achievement between boys and girls?
This is too broad of a question to answer for many reasons.
First, all tests that look at gender disparities are usually flawed. There are too many variables that you cannot account for. Second, there are social issues in places that might socialize men and women in different ways. Hence, the outcome of these studies is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Part of the reason why Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard, had to step down is when he stated that men were better in sciences than woman.
Second, people are individuals and this is far more important than the gender. In other words, some men excel in a subject and some do not. This is the same of women. So, it is much better to look at the individual than the population as men and women. There is much more precision in examining individuals.
In light of these point, I do not believe that we can make general statements on academic aptitude when it comes to men and women.
I believe the statistics and study say there is an achievement gap between boys and girls. I'm sure there are many variables to consider, and many arguments could be made about the data and how achievement is measured. As a high school teacher, it is interesting to think about the difference between boys and girls in school and try to determine why girls are said to achieve more than boys. From my experience, I would say it has a lot to do with behavior in the classroom. Boys seem to be more naturally active than girls, and even more fidgety and talkative. Also, girls are more eager to please than boys are. Of course, this isn't based on any formal research I've done in my class, just general observations.
More and more in the area in which I reside, the public schools are losing male students, who transfer to private schools because they are "bored" in the classrooms of the public school where they are forced to be involved in cooperative learning groups or they are not allowed to have discussions in their classes. And, if there are discussions, limitations are placed upon them because of what is appropriate, politically correct, etc. Certain males have also taken a negative attitude toward learning since they feel that there will be no jobs for them, anyway, because hiring practices include them in no minority group which is given certain preferential advantages whereas females can be included.
I would also like to agree with pohnpei, but the important question (as vangoghfan) points out is why? Perhaps the academic gap is a result of more women are going to school in order to help out their own families financially. While there has been a greater number of women entering the workplace for some time now, they may not have been looking to advancing themselves academically until now. Another suggestion would be that there are an increasing number of single mothers. Perhaps these mothers would not have gone to college to benefit themselves, but because of their children, they are looking to better the lives of their children by obtaining advanced educations.
Just some thoughts.
What the first post misses is that the question is not about academic aptitude but rather about academic achievement.
Right now in the US, at least, women are getting more college degrees than men are. In that sense, women are achieving more academically than men are. These differences are present at earlier levels as well, with girls doing better than boys in most academic areas in both elementary and secondary schools. However, boys do tend to do better than girls in math and science. So the data are somewhat mixed.
In achievement, yes, we do tend to see this more and more, although it does depend on the subject and the level we are talking about. The big question is not whether, but why? Seeing as how the trend used to be leaning more towards boys in math and science in past decades, what is responsible for the shift? I see equal amounts of involvement in athletics and extracurricular activities with both genders, and equal access to study and tutoring opportunities, so I can't explain why this trend seems to be taking place.
Definitely statistics paint a picture that is fairly conclusive. Girls on average do better than boys in education. However, I think it is important to ask what the real story is behind these statistics, and the way that the socially structured concept of gender, or the expectations we have of boys and girls, can play into these statistics. I don't believe we can use such statistics to argue that girls are by nature more intelligent than boys.
Not only are women excelling in college at a higher level than men, but throughout my high school teaching career, I always found that the young women usually outperformed the young men in my classes. I taught in a rural area for most of my life, and there seemed to be a "macho" view among the boys that high academic achievement was not a particularly masculine trait.
As usual, pohnpei is right on target. Young women are increasingly earning greater numbers of college degrees than young men. Why this is happening would be interesting to know. Ideally, young men and women should be attending and graduating from college in equal numbers.