Boys are being outclassed by girls at both school and university, and the gap is widening

The Economist magazine published an article on “The Weaker Sex”, under their general topic heading of “Gender, education and work”, which indicates teenage boys are being left behind by girls.

Until the 1960s boys spent longer and went further in school than girls, and were more likely to graduate from university. Now, across the rich world and in a growing number of poor countries, the balance has tilted the other way. Policymakers who once fretted about girls’ lack of confidence in science now spend their time dangling copies of “Harry Potter” before surly boys. Sweden has commissioned research into its “boy crisis”. Australia has devised a reading programme called “Boys, Blokes, Books & Bytes”. In just a couple of generations, one gender gap has closed, only for another to open up.

The reversal is laid out in a report published on March 5th by the OECD, a Paris-based rich-country think-tank. Boys’ dominance just about endures in maths: at age 15 they are, on average, the equivalent of three months’ schooling ahead of girls. In science the results are fairly even. But in reading, where girls have been ahead for some time, a gulf has appeared. In all 64 countries and economies in the study, girls outperform boys. The average gap is equivalent to an extra year of schooling.

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The OECD deems literacy to be the most important skill that it assesses, since further learning depends on it. Sure enough, teenage boys are 50% more likely than girls to fail to achieve basic proficiency in any of maths, reading and science.

Youngsters in this group, with nothing to build on or shine at, are prone to drop out of school altogether.

Much more data from this article on The Economist here.

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