The ‘Boy Crisis’ in Education

Rebekah points to an interesting article debunking the so-called ‘boy crisis’ in education, which suggests that boys are falling behind because of hostile classroom environments and biased curricula. As it turns out, race trumps gender by a mile:

It becomes clear that if there is a crisis, it’s among inner-city and rural boys. White suburban boys aren’t significantly touched by it. On average, they are not dropping out of school, avoiding college or lacking in verbal skills. Although we have been hearing that boys are virtually disappearing from college classrooms, the truth is that among whites, the gender composition of colleges is pretty balanced: 51 percent female and 49 percent male, according to the National Education Association. In Ivy League colleges, men still outnumber women…

Among whites in Boston public schools, for every 100 males who graduate, 104 females do. A tiny gap.

But among blacks, for every 100 males who graduate, 139 females do. Florida’s graduation rates among all students show a striking picture of race and class: 81 percent for Asians, 60 percent for whites, 48 percent for Hispanics and 46 percent for blacks.

It seems to me that we’re ignoring the much more vexing issue of race to address this apparent low-hanging fruit.

I should point out that that university data is considerably different in Canada. Stats Canada reports that women now account for 6 out of every 10 university graduates. Is this a crisis? Not really (though, it’s a small tragedy that I’m not an undergraduate these days). I suspect more boys have gone to trade schools and community colleges, because trade and crafts person work has become lucrative in recent years.


  1. I’d have to agree with you on the trade schools stuff. Being a carpenter or plumber ( or anybody who works with their hands for a living ) is a pretty lucrative job. If you don’t mind lots of manual labour, that is.

  2. Very interesting analysis, but I’m not certain it can be extended to Canadian universities, as our minority composition is different, and includes aboriginals, Asians and South Asians. Race is a touchy issue.

    But the 6/10 university grads being female is by no means a crisis. At the U of Alberta, 2/3 enrolees are female. What straight, red-blooded male in his right mind would _ever_ complain about a gender ratio like that?

    Seriously, though, it’s about foregone income. Males in Alberta can easily make 40g per year in the trades right out of high school. Not many girls are taught that construction trades can be considered “girl’s work” too, so as a general tendency, they rule out this option.

    So if you were an 18 year old kid, would you give up 4 grand a month worth of income to get an education? The income opportunities for girls right out of high school are substantially less, and so they adapt by just being better at school and getting scholarships.

    The opportunity cost of an education is the foregone income one could have made while in school. I have tallied mine over 6 years to be in the 220k range. So I don’t have a house, car or anything like that. All I have is this piece of paper. It’s gonna pay off though.

    I’ll blog it!

  3. I found that women were more likely to show up as mature students. So some of those 6/10 may be women in their 30s and 40s who’ve had kids and headed back to school, since they don’t want to work in the trades and anything else pays too little to support a family.

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