Over the last decade, girls have slowly overtaken boys, as they currently perform better than boys in both math and reading at the K-12 level. Furthermore, as of 2015, 72.5% of women who completed high school were enrolled in a two-year or four-year college program, while only 65.8% of men were enrolled in these college programs.
This is an advantage for women, since a college degree is becoming more and more necessary for getting a job in today’s society. Women are motivated in their education and they are pushing themselves to succeed both academically and professionally. Movements that encourage women in the STEM fields are proving to be successful, despite the fact that the progress is slow and it is nowhere near done.
However, boys do not seem to be as motivated to pursue a college education after high school, and multiple studies have been conducted in order to understand the underlying factors. The problems start early, typically with math and reading. Most of what boys find interesting is not considered “academic enough" for classrooms, so it’s important to ensure that boys have sufficient reading material that will interest them and motivate them to develop their reading skills.
Certain schools, due to academic pressure, are doing away with recess, which affects boys more than it affects girls. This can decrease the attention span of the students in the classroom, making them more fidgety and distracted. As a result, they end up paying less attention to what is being taught in class.
The third major reason for this shift is directly related to social pressure, as women are increasingly being seen as the ones who perform well in school. This occurs more often in lower class households, where boys see their male role models working blue collar jobs that do not necessarily require a higher education, and they absorb this into their thinking process. Studies have shown that if boys are presented with male role models that have received a higher level of education, they tend to perform better in school.
These trends are exacerbated in low income families, where boys are more likely to be underprepared for kindergarten, so the gap between boys and girls is wider.
These statistics do not mean that men cannot attain success without a college education. There are multiple examples of men getting high-paying jobs without a college degree. However, the problem of boys lagging behind remains an issue that must be changed. Tougher early life conditions force boys to struggle more than girls, and this affects their academic growth over time. Girls, on the other hand, seem to be more suited to the current education system. A shift in the system, that would address the needs of males while not letting go of the progress that females have made, is something worth exploring for our future generations.