Girls Excel, But Boys Need Nurture, Too
- Thursday, February 24, 2005
Parents take note: Boys aren't showing up on the radar screen like they used to -- little boys, big boys, high-school boys, even college boys.
The playing field between boys and girls has been officially leveled. Actually, the playing field now has a significant slope.
In five short years, the U.S. Department of Education projects that females will compose at least 60 percent of the national student body. Females graduate at a higher rate than males. Do the math (yes, you too, boys) and you will see that, in the not-too-distant future, two-thirds of all bachelor's degrees will likely go to women.
Three decades ago, college was a male preserve by a lop-sided 55 to 45 margin. Today, women command the lead. Same 10-point margin, different powder room.
Females also constitute the majority of applicants to both medical schools and law schools. We said you go girls, and they did. And we're happy they did. But what happened to the boys?
It is a question being asked with such frequency that First Lady Laura Bush plans to highlight programs for boys during the President's second term.
In the much ballyhooed shortchanging of America's girls that permeated the 80s and 90s, boys became silent co-conspirators. It was guilt by gender. Somewhere between Take Your Daughter to Work Day (you unfairly advantaged boys stay in your seats) and the "Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them" T-shirts, posters and notepads, boys began lagging behind.A mindset took hold that said, girls, move forward; boys, stay where you are -- and watch out for flying rocks.
But boys knew all along who had the real edge in the educational system, particularly in the early years. In most cases, it was the girls who could color better, print neater and out talk the boys by 200 words a minute. Girls were showered with accolades for being obedient, sitting in their chairs performing fine motor skill wonders while boys were called out for crawling beneath the chair to find out if the center nut and bolt might be key to dismantling the entire contraption. Call it the Huck Finn factor. Better yet, call it the difference between the sexes.
Hormonally, chemically and neurologically males and females are different. Ask any mother who has raised both sexes. She may not be able to tell you which sex is easier to raise, but she will be able to tell you they are markedly different.
The president of Harvard recently said there were innate differences between the sexes and shot himself in the foot. The Washington Post published a follow-up story about the president being sorry he shot himself in the foot, and included nearly 20 inches of copy quoting researchers confirming innate differences between the sexes.
It is high time to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes and that boys and girls are different. Boys do not need to be rescued from themselves. They need to be boys and be nurtured as boys.
If that means running and screaming and getting dirty at recess, then get out the Band-aids and ready the Tide. Boys need nurture just as much as girls, but often it is a different kind of nurture.
It's time we got it right and gave both sexes a strong hand up. The First Lady's goal to highlight plans for boys is timely.
You go, girl.
And three cheers for the boys.
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