THE REAL GENDER GAP SCANDAL; Forget feminism.The True Victims of Discrimination Today Are Boys, Who Under-Perform at Every Level of Education. Here, the Furious Mother of a Son Asks Why No One Will Speak out on This Deeply Disturbing Development

Daily Mail (London), August 8, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

THE REAL GENDER GAP SCANDAL; Forget feminism.The True Victims of Discrimination Today Are Boys, Who Under-Perform at Every Level of Education. Here, the Furious Mother of a Son Asks Why No One Will Speak out on This Deeply Disturbing Development


Byline: by Winifred Robinson

AS ONE of six daughters growing up in the Seventies, girls were so little prized compared with boys that a friend of my father even expressed his sympathy rather than congratulations when my youngest sister, a perfectly healthy child, was born.

Can you imagine that happening now? I rather doubt it. In an almost complete reversal of attitudes, today's parents long for girls.

As the mother of an only child, a son, I do not think I am exaggerating in saying that I detected something akin to sympathy when we announced that we had a boy. People may be more tactful these days, but there were expressions of regret that we would not be able to buy 'all those pretty pink baby clothes', and at least one close relative who sighed: 'I always thought you'd have a girl.' At the heart of this new preference lies the fact that all parents want their children to succeed in life - and quite simply, in today's Britain, girls are more likely so to do.

Building on a trend that began more than a decade ago, girls are outperforming boys at every level in education. They get more and better GCSEs and A-levels, win more places at top universities and gain better degrees.

Although poor attainment is concentrated in the lower income groups, the gender gap persists to the detriment of boys across all social classes and ethnic groups. And as this week's dismal primary school test results reveal, boys are sinking farther and farther behind.

A depressing 40 per cent of boys will begin sec-ondarschool unable to write fluently and correctly, compared with 25 per cent of girls. How can this be happening? It is to our shame that the reasons for boys' underachievement are so well researched and documented that they are no longer regarded as controversial, even among the education establishment. And yet still the reasons persist.

Boys' educational achievement began to lag behind girls from the late Eighties - around the time GCSEs replaced O-levels. There were warnings that the new qualification, with its emphasis on course work rather than final exams, would favour girls - and so it has proved.

Teenage girls tend to be more conscientious and dedicated to longterm projects, while boys are better at cramming and thrive in the adrenaline-fuelled arena of the exam.

If any doubt remained, it was cast aside in a study published in June by the prestigious Higher Education Policy Institute. It cited the GCSE as the 'most likely cause' of the gender equality gap in higher education.

The report cites the style of teaching, content and questions at GCSE, which trigger an educational disadvantage among boys compared to girls, which lingers through to A-levels and beyond.

Those results have an inevitable impact on further education. Girls have all but reached the government target of 50 per cent going on from school to study for a degree, while boys are way behind at 38 per cent.

Answering counter-claims that the introduction of GCSE and the continued relatively poor performance of boys is just a coincidence, the study points out that in research by the Organisation For Economic Co-operation And Development, where more than 13,000 15-year-olds sat what might be termed 'traditional' tests, girls scored better in reading, while boys achieved more correct answers in maths and science.

When the same pupils sat GCSEs, however, the girls did better in all subjects.

'I think GCSEs look as if they are to blame,' argued the institute's director, Bahram Bekhradnia. 'And if there is a suggestion that the nature of GCSEs is putting boys at a disadvantage and meaning that they do less well in school, then that needs to be dealt with, because these kids are missing out.'

But it has not been dealt with, and neither has the other crucial factor which helps convince many boys - long before GCSEs loom - that study is not for them.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

THE REAL GENDER GAP SCANDAL; Forget feminism.The True Victims of Discrimination Today Are Boys, Who Under-Perform at Every Level of Education. Here, the Furious Mother of a Son Asks Why No One Will Speak out on This Deeply Disturbing Development
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?