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The Dirty Secret Behind 'Demon Tobacco' Regulation doesn't cover cigarette additives Doug Collins, cartoons by John Jonik (Nov 28, 2010)

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article below posted November 28, 2010    Bookmark and Share

America’s Education Gender Gap

by Bill Costello

Editor's note: I'm a supporter of gender pay equality and was disheartened that the US Senate recently blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act. I also support educational equality, and the article below raises compelling and surprising questions about gender trends in education and their long term effects. Could it be that we've concentrated too much on empowering girls and unintentionally slighted the education of boys?

In American schools, boys are underachieving and girls are excelling. This gender gap in academic achievement is evident as early as kindergarten. The longer students are in school, the wider the gap becomes.

Boys are more likely than girls to earn poor grades, be held back a grade, have a learning disability, form a negative attitude toward school, get suspended or expelled, and drop out of school.

The education gender gap is affecting colleges, the workforce, the marriage rate, and the fatherlessness rate in America.

Women outnumber men in college by four to three. Four decades ago, men outnumbered women in college by four to three. The tipping point occurred in the late 1970s. Not only are men less likely than women to go to college, they’re also less likely to graduate once there.

Among 25-to-29-year-olds, 33 percent of women have earned at least a bachelor's degree compared with just 23 percent of men. This is the first generation of women to be more educated than their male counterparts.

This shift means that women will increasingly get the highly paid jobs while men will experience a drop in earnings. This is already happening. Men in their 30s are the first generation to earn significantly less income than their fathers’ did at the same age.

As jobs that require little education increasingly shrink, more and more men will become unemployed. In the current economy, unemployment is higher and rising faster for men than for women.

As the ratio of college-educated women to college-educated men continues to grow, increasingly fewer college-educated women are able to find men they'd like to marry.

Many of these women are choosing not to marry at all rather than marry men of lower education who are likely to earn significantly less than they do.

This is not to say that college-educated women and less educated men never get married. But these marriages tend not to last. Marriages are more likely to end in divorce when wives earn more than their husbands.

This is increasingly becoming a problem. Thirty years ago, wives earned more than their husbands in 16 percent of marriages. Now it’s 25 percent and continuing to rise. At the current rate of change, by 2050 nearly half of the married women will earn more than their husbands.

Such a man might be increasingly difficult to find, given current trends. Will roles become reversed? Will men and women simply rarely make commitments?
cartoon by John Ambrosavage


Fewer and fewer Americans are getting married. For better or for worse, the future is not bright for the institution of marriage.

The rise in the number of single American women has given birth to another trend: the rise in single motherhood. The nonmarital birth rate rose sharply from 18 percent in 1980 to 39 percent in 2006. According the National Center for Health Statistics, this trend is not being fueled by teenage mothers, but rather by women in their 30s and 40s.

The National Center for Fathering found that 72 percent of Americans think that fatherlessness is the most significant social problem facing our nation. America is the world’s leader in fatherless families.

In sum, the education gender gap that starts in kindergarten is leading to a nation of undereducated men who are contributing less and less to the economy and the family structure. This will adversely impact our nation’s productivity, prosperity, and society.

It’s in the interest of women as well as men to turn this situation around. It’s already too late to make up for the generations of boys whose educational attainments did not live up to their potential. However, it’s not too late to help the current generation of boys.

They deserve better. So do their mothers and future wives.

Bill Costello, M.Ed., is the president of U.S.-based Making Minds Matter, LLC and the author of "Awaken Your Birdbrain: Using Creativity to Get What You Want." He can be reached at www.makingmindsmatter.com.


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Comments (4)

Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.



#1 - Jesse S - 11/29/2010 - 10:41
Great topic. Interesting that I've recently heard that the teachers in my daughters school routinely complain about the boy students, how it's hard to handle them being unruly in class. I'm thinking that a part of the problem is that school discipline has changed. Everyone is so "nice" and "careful" nowadays. Girls might respond to that sort of order, but maybe not boys.

#2 - Dillian - 01/08/2012 - 14:53
That's 2 cleevr by half and 2x2 clever 4 me. Thanks!

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#4 - enxshgrj - 01/12/2012 - 06:26
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