Gender Gap and the "Boy Crisis" in Higher Education

Is there a “boy crisis” in higher education in the United States? Are females outperforming males at disturbingly high rates?

Yes and no. It depends on how you look at it.

The numbers do seem to indicate that something is going on. According to the U.S. Department of Education, significantly more college degrees are being awarded to women than men. Women earn about 62% of all associate’s degrees, 57% of bachelor’s degrees, and 59% of master’s degrees. This is especially interesting because, on the undergraduate level, there isn’t much of a gap at all between males and females entering college. The problem is with male graduation rates.

However, some argue that the so-called “boy crisis” is overstated. A recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) argues that the most significant disparity in educational achievement isn’t gender—it’s socioeconomic status and income level, which makes a far greater impact than gender. The gender gap in education is quite high among poorer students, but among students of middle class or higher status, the gender gap in favor of women is only slight.

Another important part of the educational gap to consider is the question of marketable skills and majors. Traditionally, majors that have attracted women (education, nursing, liberal arts) have led to lower paying careers, while majors that have traditionally attracted men (sciences, computers, engineering, business) have led to higher paying careers. As more women take on nontraditional majors, and as these fields open up more to women, this gap is closing. However, this disparity certainly hasn’t gone away—and it’s just as important as the question of whether more women than men are graduating from college.

Furthermore, it’s important to look at the entire socioeconomic picture for women after college. Women still only make about 76 cents for every dollar that a man makes. The degree to which this gap has closed over the years (it was closer to 50 cents after World War II) is certainly something to applaud—but there’s still a serious gap. Moreover, the gap between male and female wages increases quite a bit as women get older and into the years where people typically accumulate wealth. Right out of college, the gap isn’t all that high, but after the childbearing years are over, women tend to make significantly less than men. Women who choose to have children commonly find themselves downwardly mobile in the workplace, and the same is not true for men who have children—a fact that is not being offset much at all by women’s increased graduation rates.

So should we be concerned by the gap between male and female educational achievement? Of course. But the situation is more complicated than it looks on the surface. For a more accurate understanding of gender inequality in education and beyond, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

2 Responses to “Gender Gap and the “Boy Crisis” in Higher Education”

  1. Deep Think says:

    Back in the 80’s boys were excelling over girls in education. At that time it was labeled a crisis. Now that girls are excelling over boys its not being considered a crisis. This seems to be common today that when ever boys excel its sexist and discrimination but when girls excel its the cream rising to the top.

    The reason it should be considered a crisis is because as feminist claimed back in the 80’s “When one gender out performs the other in education they will out compete for best paying jobs which was what was happening back at that time. boys excelled in education and were out competing girls for best
    paying jobs which wasn’t fair to our girls.

    So now that girls are excelling over boys in education they are starting to out compete for best paying jobs which isn’t fair for our boys. Thus to make it fair lets revisit our educational system to make it gender neutral. We will know when we have succeeded when there is no gender gap in education.

    Its important that both genders share equally in getting best paid jobs because when girls make more money than boys girls loose interest in boys.Why? Because one of the pillars of female’s attraction for males was the man’s ability to provide. When women make more they have become the mighty hunter and look down on males as weak when they aren’t the mighty hunter.This is one reason marriage is in decline. women don’t want to marry down. Men on the other hand did not desire women because of their ability to provide and thus were willing to marry down.Thus for the sake of the married institution which has always been considered to be the glue that holds society together the current gender gap must be closed.

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