Girls Strongly Outpacing Boys in Reading, Science
The success of a decades-long attempt to boost female achievement has revealed a troubling new gender gap: the rise of the unskilled, underemployed male.
Boys are quickly falling behind girls in basic skills like reading, maths, and science, demonstrating the success of a decades-long attempt to boost female achievement while revealing a troubling new gender gap: the rise of the unskilled, underemployed male.
In a review of new data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris think-tank that assesses the achievements of wealthy countries, The Economist paints a complex picture of gender equality when it comes to scholastic achievement:
"The average 15-year-old girl devotes five-and-a-half hours a week to homework, an hour more than the average boy, who spends more time playing video games and trawling the internet. Three-quarters of girls read for pleasure, compared with little more than half of boys. ... The OECD found that, among boys who do as much homework as the average girl, the gender gap in reading fell by nearly a quarter."
Instructors from wealthy boarding schools and cash-strapped public classrooms agree: boys are less interested in school, partially as a result of gender stereotypes requiring them to be tough rather than smart. The Economist also found that boys' marks suffer as a result of their behavioral problems in the classroom. In blind grading studies, teachers marked boys' exams less harshly when they the gender of the student wasn't apparent.
"Boys’ disdain for school might have been less irrational when there were plenty of jobs for uneducated men. But those days have long gone."
The results of the study also demonstrate, ironically, that confidence levels among girls are lower than among boys. This trend appears to continue throughout professional careers, contributing to the persistent paucity of women at higher levels in professional life.
When the importance of scholastic qualifications earned long ago begins to fade, qualities like personality, ambition, and experience come to matter more. In careers that are especially demanding, such as top medical and legal jobs, this may put women at a disadvantage as they leave at higher rates than men to spend time with children.
The relatively low pace of achievement among boys is an emerging gender gap that parents, educators, and politicians should not ignore.
Here is the OECD's complete 2014 education report.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.
- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
A new method of growing mini-brains produces some startling results.
- Researchers find a new and inexpensive way to keep organoids growing for a year.
- Axons from the study's organoids attached themselves to embryonic mouse spinal cord cells.
- The mini-brains took control of muscles connected to the spinal cords.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.