|NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 15, 2003) -- It may still be a man's world. But it is no longer, in any way, a boy's. From kindergarten to graduate school, boys are fast becoming the new second sex. The trend of girls outdoing boys in education is a phenomenon that spans every state, every income bracket, every racial and ethnic group, and every industrialized western nation. The May 26th issue of BusinessWeek takes an in-depth look at how girls are becoming the dominate sex and the effects of leaving a generation of boys behind.
From their first days in school, an average boy is already developmentally two years behind girls in reading and writing. Yet they are often expected to learn the same things in the same way in the same amount of time. Boys who fall behind, are apt to be shipped off to special ed, where they'll find that more than 70% of their classmates are also boys. Those who become disruptive in classrooms are then four times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That often leads to Ritalin prescriptions or risk being expelled, sent to special ed, or having parents accused of negligence.
Once boys hit their freshman year of high school, they're at greater risk of falling even further behind in grades, extracurricular activities, and advanced placement. While the girls are busy working on sweeping the honor roll at graduation, boys are more likely to be bulking up in a weight room or otherwise engaged in video games or downloading music. All the while, boys are 30% more likely to drop out, 85% more likely to commit murder, and four to six times more likely to kill themselves, with boy suicides tripling since 1970.
On the higher education front, for 350 years, men outnumbered women on college campuses. Now, women reign, earning an average 57% of all BAs and 58% of all master's degrees in the U.S. alone. There are 133 girls getting BAs for every 100 guys -- a number that's projected to grow to 142 women per 100 men by 2010, according to the U.S. Education Dept. If current trends continue, demographers say, there will be 156 women per 100 men earning degrees by 2020, BusinessWeek reports.
"Across the country, it seems as if girls have built a kind of scholastic Roman Empire alongside boys' languishing Greece," writes BusinessWeek's Working Life Editor Michelle Conlin. While the education grab by girls is positive news, one that could make the 21st the first female century, this story has strong implications for men.
If the creeping pattern of male disengagement and economic dependency continues, everyone stands to lose. The growing educational and economic imbalances will likely cause huge upheavals in the way society functions, altering family finances, social policies, and work-family practices.
BusinessWeek's cover story, "The New Gender Gap," will be available on newsstands on Monday, May 19, 2003 and will also be available on BusinessWeek Online (www.businessweek.com) on Friday, May 16th.