Miles to go: The continuing quest for gender equity in the classroom 

Tough day at school! Cute child near the blackboard indoors. Kid is learning in class. Complex math, arithmetic and examples. Numbers written with chalk on board.

 

Gender-conscious teaching can help all students dismantle stereotypes and grow without the restrictions that come from bias. 

 

In the 1990s, a number of scholarly and popular publications raised concerns about the challenges girls were facing both in and out of school. For example, in their well-known book Failing at Fairness (1994), researchers Myra and David Sadker revealed persistent biases against girls by many educators, as well as the widespread under-recognition of learning disabilities among girls and the fact that girls were performing relatively poorly on standardized tests despite having higher grades than boys. Meanwhile, Peggy Orenstein’s best-selling book Schoolgirls (1994) highlighted the extent to which girls were suffering from sexual harassment at school, and Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia (1994) brought awareness to teenage girls’ high rates of depression and frequent struggles with self-doubt.  

Today, some people may wonder whether we still need to be talking about how girls are doing in school. After all, we now see evidence of their success all around us. Girls are enrolling and graduating from college in record numbers (DiPrete & Buchmann, 2013). They now make up the majority of enrollments in medical schools and law schools. More and more women are succeeding as politicians, activists, business leaders, and on and on.  

The idea that girls are doing just fine in school is not uncommon, nor is it new. Nearly two decades ago, scholar Christina Hoff Sommers (2000) made headlines with a passionate plea in The Atlantic for more attention to be paid to the plight of boys. It was a mistake, she argued, to direct so much attention and resources to supporting girls. Actually, she went on, in her provocatively titled book The War Against Boys (2001), it was boys who warranted far more concern. The author Peg Tyre added fuel to the fire with The Trouble with Boys (2008), touting studies that showed, for example, that boys were being disciplined and expelled from schools in much greater numbers than girls. The school environment had become feminized, she argued, and boys were being penalized for behaving in naturally masculine ways. Meanwhile, girls were earning higher grades, and their rates of college attendance were growing much faster. 

One might ask, then, who has it worse in the nation’s schools, boys or girls? Which is it? If one is winning, the other group must be losing, right?  

To the contrary, we argue that it makes little sense to pit one population against the other, as though boys and girls were locked in a competition to determine who is more deserving of attention and support from policy makers and educators. Is it worse to be sexually harassed at school or unfairly suspended? If greater number of girls than boys go to college every year, does that mean we’re in the midst of a boy crisis? Or, since women make up less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs, should the girl crisis get top billing? We reject such questions. Educational equity is not a zero-sum game. 

As we turn our attention to the state of girls’ education, then, please keep in mind that we have no desire to downplay the challenges faced by boys in general, much less to deny the very acute challenges faced by boys of color in particular.  

The state of girls’ education 

When we look at how girls and women are faring in 2018, we see that they continue to face a number of challenges, despite their higher grade point averages (GPA’s) and lower dropout rates. For example, while girls matriculate to college in higher numbers than boys, their course-taking patterns remain highly skewed. Girls take fewer STEM courses in high school, and by the time they get to college, this tendency accelerates. In fact, although the number of women who hold undergraduate degrees is nearly equal to that of men, they only make up 30% of the degree holders in STEM fields. Additionally, women who are STEM degree holders are less likely to pursue a career in a STEM-focused occupation; the majority of those who do hold them pursue careers in education or health care with few branching out into other fields (Noonan, 2017).  

Ongoing, and often invisible, instances of bias may steer girls and women out of fields they may have otherwise pursued and, ultimately, rob society of the potential contributions of those who have been unfairly kept down or pushed aside. 

Much of this discrepancy may be the result of persistent bias against women and girls in the classroom and beyond. David and Myra Sadker’s research studying teacher-student interactions in coed classrooms reveals that girls often receive less attention from their teacher, hear more comments about their appearance than about their academic skills, and often receive less and lower-quality feedback than boys (Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Sadker & Zittleman, 2009). Research also shows that, beyond school, women are unfairly penalized for their gender when being evaluated by prospective employers (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012; Quadlin, 2018) and that male college students tend to overestimate the performance of their male peers while underestimating the GPA’s of female students in college courses (Grunspan et al., 2016).  

These types of biases seem to affect all women, but certain groups face additional challenges and stereotyping. For example, studies find that teacher biases around gender often intersect with their biases related to race (Crenshaw, Ocen, & Nanda, 2015), socioeconomic status (Gorski, 2017), or sexual orientation (Payne & Smith, 2011). These findings remind us of the limitations of using broad statistics about how girls and boys are doing. We always should ask: Which boys? Which girls? In which schools? No one, we hope, would argue that all girls are having unqualified success in school. When we dig deeper into the data, we see that girls of color, girls with special needs, girls from lower-income families, girls who do not speak English as a first language, and many other marginalized groups tend to struggle more in schools than upper-middle-class White girls. What’s more, a recent Stanford University study (Reardon et al., 2018) reveals that in the most affluent school districts, girls continue to lag behind boys in math on standardized tests, even as math ability as a whole across the country has largely equalized across boys and girls. There are many hypotheses, but few clear answers as to why boys in the most affluent districts are continuing to achieve higher scores than their White female peers or why Latino and Black boys across the country are achieving lower scores than Latino and Black girls. What is irrefutable, however, is that gender continues to exert great influence on student academic achievement.  

In response to biases against them, many girls and women internalize negative beliefs and exhibit what Claude Steele and Josh Aronson (1995) describe as stereotype threat — a self-fulfilling prophecy in which girls underperform in situations where their awareness of a negative stereotype about girls is activated (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). Ongoing, and often invisible, instances of bias may also steer girls and women out of fields they may have otherwise pursued (including, in many cases, ones leading to more lucrative careers) and, ultimately, rob society of the potential contributions of those who have been unfairly kept down or pushed aside.  

In light of the challenges girls and women continue to face, we set out to study girls’ learning in school, focusing specifically on what girls and their teachers think are the most motivating and engaging kinds of lessons and how gender is relevant to girls in the classroom. Our qualitative study drew mostly on open-ended survey responses of nearly 1,400 girls in grades 6-12 and 550 of their teachers, located in 14 girls’ schools across the country (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017). These schools were both public and independent, and the girls were 56% White, 14% Latino, 12% Black, and 4% Asian American, with smaller numbers of Asian/Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern American, Afro-Caribbean, and American Indian students. Parents’ educational achievement skewed high, with 63% of students reporting that a parent had a graduate or professional degree and another 26.5% reporting a parent with a college degree. 

Interestingly, when we compared our findings with those from a similar study of boys (Reichert & Hawley, 2010a, 2010b), we discovered that, in general, the students and their teachers all tended to describe the same types of lessons. Both girls and boys find active learning engaging and are motivated by hands-on lessons, group projects, class discussions and debate, opportunities for performance, chances to be creative, and large-scale multimodal projects. They are most likely to be fully engaged by caring teachers who set high standards and provide ample ways to meet them. These findings are in accord with a large body of literature showing that girls and boys do not have appreciably different brains or categorically different ways of learning (e.g., Eliot, 2010; Hyde, 2005).  

Gender consciousness 

The fact that girls and boys tend to find the same types of lessons motivating, engaging, and effective does not mean that gender is irrelevant in the classroom. Gender plays a role in how students think of themselves, how they view history, and how they choose partners for projects. It affects their relationships, permeates their social lives, and looms over their expectations about careers and college. To teach in a way that allows girls and, indeed, all students to be fully engaged and empowered in the classroom, teachers must provide a learning environment that eliminates gender bias, dismantles stereotypes, and removes barriers to students’ involvement in what have historically been viewed as gendered academic subjects and occupations. We have found that adopting a position of active gender consciousness helps teachers do this.  

Incorporating gender consciousness is possible in every classroom, though it will look different depending on the grade level and subject matter taught as well as the gender composition of the class. Teachers can begin simply by acknowledging that gender is a crucial identity that affects students’ lives, but that should not limit their participation in the classroom or the possibilities for their futures. They must also acknowledge that stereotyping and harassment exist and that it is critical to challenge their existence by bringing them out in the open and addressing them. Offering opportunities to all students without making assumptions about what their abilities or interests are is one important way to address common stereotypes. For example, in a physics classroom with a lab component, teachers can assign student groups and require that students rotate through different roles (e.g., note taker, supply organizer, construction lead, and calculations lead). The same rotation practice may be applied when students are doing history projects, or enacting plays in English. By providing the opportunity for each student to participate in a different role, the teacher can help ensure that students, both boys and girls, who are quieter, less confident of their abilities in the subject, less socially engaged with their peers, or otherwise typically marginalized in group work have chances to participate.   

PDK_100_2_Andrus_Art_46Table1

When adopting a stance of gender consciousness, a gender audit can help teachers and other school leaders evaluate the state of affairs for all students. Teachers and administrators should consider periodically using surveys, focus groups, and data analysis to evaluate student attitudes, participation patterns, and feelings of acceptance, among other indicators (see “Questions to ask in a gender audit”). If schools find gendered patterns of exclusion or harassment, they may wish to conduct more intensive school climate assessments focused on gendered experiences and interactions or create a task force to examine patterns of bias and harassment and identify ways to disrupt them. For example, if girls tend to be silenced during classroom discussion, teachers may be able to disrupt this pattern by setting up classroom activities in a different way, pausing to allow many students to raise their hands (as opposed to responding to the first student to volunteer), rearranging desks, or using interactive technology that allows students to ask and answer questions anonymously. 

Because students value relevance in what they are studying, it is important to closely examine curriculum content to ensure that it can be made relevant to all students. Girls in our study described how meaningful and engaging it was to learn about real-world connections between the lesson content and their own lives. They valued opportunities to have choice in what and how they studied and were drawn in by lessons that asked them to incorporate their own backgrounds, families, or interests. They wanted to learn about how girls and women are situated in the world and how that affects them personally. The power of incorporating these kinds of relevant topics can be palpable. What stood out for us in our study was the way that the girls’ personal gender identity was such a strong force in motivating their classroom engagement and success. 

While teachers need not ask students to reflect on their gender identity every day, there will be frequent opportunities for teachers to help students think about how their genders have shaped their lives or what their lives as girls (or boys or students with non-binary identities) may have been like had they lived in a different time or place. In addition, there are many occasions when teachers can make direct references to the contributions of people of different genders and the relevance of gender to the content. Teachers can also continuously reflect on gendered patterns of participation in the classroom to determine whether any students are being silenced or excluded. These strategies serve the larger goal of creating an inclusive, unbiased, and supportive classroom that upends stereotypes. Again, though, it is important, while engaging in these practices, always to remember that students have multiple social identities. Racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds interact with an individual’s gender, and all these identities should be recognized and respected.  

Teachers can promote relevance both in the material they select (e.g., works of literature by authors from a large variety of backgrounds, information on scientific achievements of individuals who aren’t all White men) and also by allowing their students to meaningfully integrate their own experiences. Two good ways to accomplish this are by allowing students choice in projects and topics of study and providing opportunities for students to reflect on identity and meaning both in writing and in classroom discussions. We found dozens of examples of these types of lessons or projects in our studies. Girls wrote about learning about the legislative process by designing a bill to address a concern they had about their community and then taking a field trip to their state house. They debated sensitive and complex ethical and moral debates related to current events around the globe. Girls described learning activities that required them to interview family members, creatively teach information to their classmates, and conduct science experiments on products found in their homes. All of these examples reveal ways that teachers can connect students to the material they are learning, as well as to the world outside of the school walls.  

Creating a gender-conscious school and classroom is not a onetime event, but rather a teaching philosophy that permeates classrooms and school communities. By promoting an active gender consciousness, teachers can create an environment that consistently acknowledges the power of gender in our lives and allows students to discover how their gender identity affects them and their learning. A spirit of gender consciousness helps teachers and students recognize and dismantle internal and external stereotypes and biases, acknowledges that there are innumerable ways to “do gender,” and allows students to learn and grow without restriction. Our hope is that all schools will encourage students of all genders to follow their own pursuits, permit their curiosity to develop, and grow wherever it takes them.

References 

Crenshaw, K.W., Ocen, P., & Nanda, J. (2015). Black girls matter: Pushed out, overpoliced and underprotected. New York: African American Policy Forum (AAPF) & Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. 

DiPrete, T.A. & Buchmann, C. (2013). The rise of women: The growing gender gap in education and what it means for American schools. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation. 

Eliot, L. (2010). Pink brain, blue brain. London, UK: Oneworld Publications. 

Gorski, P.C. (2017). Reaching and teaching students in poverty: Strategies for erasing the opportunity gap. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. 

Grunspan, D.Z., Eddy, S.L., Brownell, S.E., Wiggins, B.L., Crowe, A.J., & Goodreau, S.M. (2016). Males under-estimate academic performance of their female peers in undergraduate biology classrooms. PLoS One, 11 (2), e0148405. 

Hyde, J.S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60 (6), 581-592.  

Kuriloff, P.K., Andrus, S.H., & Jacobs, C.E. (2017). Teaching girls: How teachers and parents can reach their brains and hearts. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 

Moss-Racusin, C.A., Dovidio, J.F., Brescoll, V.L., Graham, M.J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109 (41), 16474-16479. 

Noonan, R. (2017). Women in STEM: 2017 update.  ESA Issue Brief #06-17. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. 

Orenstein, P. (1994). Schoolgirls: Young women, self-esteem, and the confidence gap. New York, NY: Anchor. 

Payne, E.C. & Smith, M. (2011). The reduction of stigma in schools: A new professional development model for empowering educators to support LGBTQ students. Journal of LGBT Youth, 8 (2), 174-200. 

Pipher, M. (1994). Reviving Ophelia. New York, NY: Penguin. 

Quadlin, N. (2018). The mark of a woman’s record: Gender and academic performance in hiring. American Sociological Review, 83 (2), 331-360. 

Reardon, S.F., Kalogrides, D., Fahle, E.M., Podolsky, A., & Zárate, R.C. (2018). The relationship between test item format and gender achievement gaps on math and ELA tests in fourth and eighth grades. Educational Researcher, 45 (5), 284-294. 

Reichert, M. & Hawley, R. (2010a). Reaching boys: An international study of effective teaching practices. Phi Delta Kappan, 91 (4), 35-40. 

Reichert, M. & Hawley, R. (2010b). Reaching boys, teaching boys: Strategies that work—and why. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons. 

Sadker, M. & Sadker, D. (1994). Failing at fairness: How our schools cheat girls. New York, NY: Touchstone. 

Sadker, D. & Zittleman, K.R. (2009). Still failing at fairness: How gender bias cheats girls and boys in school and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. 

Sommers, C.H. (2000, May). The war against boys. The Atlantic.  

Sommers, C.H. (2001). The war against boys: How misguided feminism is harming our young men. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. 

Spencer, S.J., Steele, C.M., & Quinn, D.M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of experimental social psychology, 35 (1), 4-28. 

Steele, C.M. & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of personality and social psychology, 69 (5), 797. 

Tyre, P. (2008). The trouble with boys: A surprising report card on our sons, their problems at school, and what parents and educators must do. New York, NY: Random House. 

 

Citation: Andrus, S., Jacobs, C., & Kuriloff, P. (2018). Miles to go: The continuing quest for gender equity in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 100 (2), 46-50. 

 

SHANNON ANDRUS (shannon@teachinggirlswell.com) is a researcher, speaker, and consultant for Teaching Girls Well Consulting (@TGWConsulting). She is a coauthor of Teaching Girls: How Teachers and Parents Can Reach Their Brains and Hearts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). 
CHARLOTTE JACOBS (chjacobs@gse.upenn.edu) is the associate director of the Independent School Teaching Residency Program. She is a coauthor of Teaching Girls: How Teachers and Parents Can Reach Their Brains and Hearts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
PETER KURILOFF (kuriloff@upenn.edu) is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. He is a coauthor of Teaching Girls: How Teachers and Parents Can Reach Their Brains and Hearts (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). 

One Comment

  • lynn oliver

    lynn oliver
    233 Collins RD N.W.
    Milledgeville, GA 31061
    478-387-6586
    mayfieldga@gmail.com

    In Regard To The Growing Male Crisis
    With Just A Little Connection to Feminism
    Guys; long before we begin thinking about boy/girl brains and role models, we need to first think in complex ways about very real differential treatment of boys and girls from infancy. I feel we are missing out really big in two ways. We must see how our genetics models are “not correct” in terms of ability. Second, we must learn to see our average stress in a very “new way”, one that is made up of “many maintained layers of mental work” from many different areas along with many ingrained weights and values which may act as continuous magnets for many accumulating and maintained layers from infancy, taking away real mental energy from thinking, learning, motivation, reducing reflection time, and hurting mental/emotional health. By seeing average stress in this way, we can then see much better how the very real differential treatment boys receive from infancy, greatly affects thinking, learning, motivation and mental health and how this problem increases greatly as we move down the socioeconomic ladder. Mind you this differential treatment is also causing middle class boys to fall behind their female peers collectively.
    We must understand the old belief “boys/men should be strong and its very aggressive, less supportive treatment by parents, teachers, and society is causing us to lose boys and men in the information age. We are losing generations of boys, later men potential and creating much more drug/alcohol abuse, suicide, and violence. I fear this will grow out of control unless we take immediate action to provide much of the same, kind, stable, *verbal interaction, and mental/emotional supports we as girls are receiving from infancy through adulthood. We must end this differential treatment in the information age if we wish for boys and men to compete equally with girls and women. My complete learning theory with many applications will go to all on request.
    The Male Crisis is growing due to much differential treatment from infancy. We need to remove our genetic models and see how differential treatment from infancy is creating the Male Crisis. The genetics models greatly favor individuals in higher socioeconomic environments who then falsely justify the plight of less affluent persons as not as intelligent or simply not working hard enough. They do not say how Female students in their areas are doing better collectively than their Male peers from their same socioeconomic environments. The myth of genetics and sheer effort is greatly hurting students in lower socioeconomic areas who have also been told the myth of genetics and hard work. They are totally ignoring how individual environments greatly affect their thinking, learning, motivation, reflection time, and their mental health.
    I have developed a learning theory that sees average stress in a much more correct way. This shows our average stress as made up of many maintained, unresolved layers of past, present, future – experiences, circumstances, needs, fears, preparation for defense along with many weights and values we have developed over time that may act as magnets for other accumulating layers of mental work or conflicts over time. This shows stress as more complex and is maintained by our minds as many unresolved mental conflicts. Each of those layers take up real mental energy, which leaves us with less mental energy for thinking, learning, motivation, shortens our reflection time and hurts our mental health. This shows us just how our individual environments and differential treatment “not genetics” greatly affect our abilities over time. This begins in infancy. The good news is along with this article, I have developed a learning theory, which provides children and adults with tools to continually change and improve their lives over time. My learning theory will go to all on request by e-mail (top). Without such tools, it requires long-term stability and a nurturing of knowledge and skills to be successful. Higher average layers and much less support create a much harder road to travel. My theory helps us understand and more permanently reduce those layers of mental work to make it easier to think, learn, and extend reflection time (higher average stress shortens reflection time).
    The Male Crisis has not been looked at in terms of much differential treatment, which increases greatly as we go down the socioeconomic ladder and more time in those environments. If we look in different socioeconomic areas we cannot help but see how the numbers of Male problems diminish greatly as we go up the socioeconomic ladder. Even in higher socioeconomic areas, those Male students are also falling behind their Female peers. As we go down the socioeconomic ladder, the number of Males failing and turning to many harmful escapes greatly increases. We need to look at much differential treatment of boys and girls beginning from infancy through adulthood. It is amazing to me that such differential treatment has not been looked at by the researchers. I imagine there are two reasons:
    1. The false belief in genetics has blinded the researchers to the great social, environmental causes of learning and motivation in academics. 2. There is the present, very improper view of average stress, which sees stress only as occurring from some immediate situation, event, or work. We need to see how our average stress is made up of many layers of past, present, future layers. We can see this by drawing an upright rectangle representing our full mental energy, then drawing in from the bottom and upward, many innumerable, layers of unresolved mental work, all of us are acclimated to – to some degree – and also places all of us at some environmental disadvantage from others. So all of us suffer from some amount or layers of maintained, unresolved mental work, which limits our leftover mental energy for thinking, learning, reflection time, and mental health.
    As we can see the problem involving differential treatment and learning is much more complex than school curriculum or boy chemistry. We need to stop looking at where boys are in life, character, and behavior and begin seeing how boys are treated, very differently from us as girls, from infancy by parents, teachers, peers, and society all to make them tough. This is creating the activity, less maturity, more learning problems, and more fear and dislike for authority figures.
    The belief boys should be strong allows more aggressive treatment as early as one year of age, designed to create more layers of anger, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with “much less” kind, stable, (very little kind verbal interaction) and much less mental/emotional support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. It is this more aggressive, less supportive treatment, which creates the toughness or extra maintained layers of average stress: anger, fear, preparation for defense, anxiety, etc. These layers remain in the mind and take away real mental energy from academics, so those boys will have to work two or three times as hard to receive the same mental reward for mental work expended.
    This aggressive, less supportive treatment along with less verbal interaction creates more social/emotional distance/distrust of others – parents, teachers, peers, and others in society. It creates much less of the social vocabulary, knowledge of syntax and other communication we as girls are given on a more continual basis from infancy. I feel this much less interaction also deprives boys, later men of much more areas of knowledge and skills girls are given through much more interaction and support/communication. From this treatment, I feel boys effectively understand about a third of the communication they have with parents, teachers, and other adults. It creates much higher layers/stress, which create more activity for stress relief (not genetics environmentally created). The higher average stress also creates higher muscle tension, which hurts handwriting: more pressure on the pencil and a much tighter grip, hurting handwriting/motivation (too much pressure tighter grip causing early fatigue).
    The total effect including less care and support creates much more failure and a feeling of hopelessness, especially with our false genetic models firmly in place. Also to make it even tougher for boys is the granting of love and honor (feelings of self-worth) only on condition of achievement, status, or image. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and be willing to give their lives in war for small measures of love and honor from society. Males not achieving in school or other areas are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given boys for fear of coddling and the false genetic models. Many boys (as you would expect) thus falling behind in school then turn their attention to sports and video games to gleam small measures of love and honor not received in the classroom. The belief boys should be strong and the false belief in genetics creates a blatant mental denial of the differential treatment, which is creating the lower academics, low esteem, and other problems many boys are facing today. So strong is the belief boys should be strong there is an almost emotional cannibalism allowed upon boys and men who appear weak in some way by society: parents, teachers, others, even from many girls and women, especially in the media.
    Note, this is not about showing feelings or openness from boys and men, it is about support, care, and respect for boys even when appearing weak in some way. Remember aggressive treatment is increased for any sign of weakness and the much wariness boys feel for parents and teachers who feel it necessary and more freely allowed to use more aggressiveness for any sign of weakness or vulnerability. This is condoned by many in society today.
    As for reading, we need high social vocabulary, much social interaction – experience with sentence structure and “lower average stress” to perform and enjoy the abstract skill of reading: decoding, visualizing, organizing, reaching into their social vocabulary/knowledge of words to learn new words in print, and enjoy the process. Boys are deprived in these areas due to much less care, verbal interaction, and much more aggressive treatment. As for writing, we also need much social vocabulary to understand, plan, and to put words into print. We also need lower average stress to create more ease of writing. The higher average stress creates significant higher muscle tension, which then creates a much tighter grip and more pressure on their pen or pencil. This creates poor handwriting and early fatigue. This kills off their motivation to write, hence more two and three word sentences from boys with and less motivation.
    I feel the shows of masculinity and misbehavior are pretty much copouts to both show separation from failure and also to generate small measures of love and honor from their peers. Their defensiveness from authority is really pretty straight forward, especially in lower socioeconomic areas where strength, power, and status hold very real currency in those areas. For those students it is not just misbehavior but a real tug of war or fight for minimum feelings of self-worth from a continual fight they feel outside the classroom as well as in.
    The suicide epidemic for boys and men is the result of Males being deprived sufficiently from essential feelings of self-worth and so being denied love and honor from others. The more aggressive, less supportive treatment boys are given from an early age is creating much more failure and hopelessness in school, preventing many boys, later men from competing in the information age thus losing the means to secure legally, income, status, and power to earn love and honor from society. This then creates many more instances of more aggressive, less respectful treatment, which slowly wears down their feelings of self-worth or desire to live right on to the point of suicide. I feel long before this point is reached, many many more boys and men are already escaping in various harmful ways from video games and sports to drug/alcohol abuse in an attempt to live despite the low feelings of self-worth they are feeling.
    There is a wrinkle to this. There are a “very few boys” given more stable, correct support from a few families which enable those boys to succeed in school. This enables those boys to do well to receive love and honor from others, which they must continually do to keep earning that love and honor. This then becomes a never-ending drug for those boys which drives them to continually achieve in school. Those very few boys will be driven to continually achieve both school and society with much more success due to the drug of achievement to earn love and honor. However the vast majority of those boys receiving very little support and much more aggressive treatment will not do well in school. Early on, they go into other areas to generate love and honor such as escaping to sports and video games and later to the military,
    (far right groups), other just to generate ounces of love/honor from others.
    Sadly, indulgence pays in the information age, while less supportive, more aggressive treatment hurts development in the information age. As girls we are treated much better and so enjoy much more hope and care from society. Since we as girls are given by differential treatment, much more continual, positive – mental, social/emotional support, verbal interaction from an early age onward, this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls when compared with the boys. The much more verbal interaction also transfers and creates many small and large arrays of real knowledge and skills, which are “important for learning, communication, and working with knowledge and skills. I feel this is creating a significant advantage for girls and women. We enjoy much more care and support from society, from infancy through adulthood and receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things. This is even so for lower socioeconomic environments, where even here, girls, later women are able to perform very well in school and society due to much continual support from everyone. We enjoy lower average stress for more ease of learning. We enjoy much more freedom of expression from much protection that makes us look more unstable at times. Of course we can also use that same tremendous freedom of expression to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness/patronization to our Male peers with impunity knowing we are protected. We enjoy much lower muscle tension for more ease and ability in handwriting and motivation to write. We enjoy much more positive, trust/communication from parents, teachers, peers, and more support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. The lower the socioeconomic bracket the much more amplified the differential treatment from infancy and more differentiated over time through adulthood. Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society, we are enjoying even more lavishing of love and honor from society, while the boys and men are now failing more so and are now given even more ridicule and abuse by society. Mind you, this is also now coming from many girls and women using our still very protected freedoms of expression and more so with false feelings of superiority. What is worse, the modeling of an aggressive posture by parents, teachers, peers, and the media toward boys, later men and much more love and honor for girls have created a growing institutionalized acceptance of feelings of superiority and much vocalization of more patronization/condescending speech toward boys and men today. I witness this continually in the classroom, employment, stores, and offices where today, many women are now taking over and imitating the more harsh condescending speech we as girls/women have been so intensely modeled.
    As for girls there is a wrinkle also. We are given love and honor simply for being girls. This allows us to choose less than top planes of success and still find wonderful planes of innersecurity. We are not as driven. However, as the middle class continues to drop, there will be fewer boys able to receive the bare adequate support to be successful academically. Also more girls will begin “choosing to go into those higher fields by choice”. This will slowly allow women to begin taking over those higher fields just as we have already taken over the other fields.
    In note, I feel feminism has not created the Male Crisis, but – the information age has. The belief boys should be strong is still here and this improper treatment is causing many boys and men to greatly fall behind in society. The belief girls, later women should be protected, is allowing for much more proper treatment for girls and women. This much better treatment is creating many more successful girls and women. There is – “some connection” with the growth of feminism and its effects on Male achievement and esteem. The belief boys should be strong as this article shows, is already creating much lower real esteem and lower feelings of self-worth for boys and men. For boys/men there is now a much lowered feeling of self-worth and lowered esteem along with much more wariness for future failure. This has made boys and men extremely more sensitive to any further derision from others for any more failures. This also enhances their sensitivity to more derision from girls and women which is already acutely high due to our very collective, more open, and yes more freely institutionalized, accepted, abrasive speech and who are now in greater numbers surging ahead of our Male peers. Yes, everyone, both girls and boys, along with men and women fully realize this in our lives today. This is already creating much more subtle and outright aggressive, patronizing, and overall, less respect toward boys and men by parents, teachers, peers, female managers, and even the average female office workers or supermarket personnel in stores and offices. When boys and men are then thrown into a position of expectancy of further abuse from more appearance of some weakness, especially among girls and women, this then signals to boys and men they will receive, if only from memories, additional derision and ridicule when appearing weak in some way. This shows just how those many layers of hurt, anger, fear, and preparation for defense have created many harsh values within boys and men, which only amplifies their sensitivities to other present or future hurts and abuses which only add to their already present layers of hurt. This then creates more defensiveness and more preparation for defense as society knows only to provide more ridicule and derision for boys and men who are failing. I am afraid this same playbook is given to parents, teachers, peers, and all others in society. This alone will cause more boys and men “not to compete where girls and women are involved” so as to not receive the double threat of both failure and “in their minds” more enhanced ridicule and derision “yes more ridicule from girls” on top of their already numerous layers of hurt, especially when their esteem and feelings of self-worth are already critically low to begin with. This is something boys, later men have much experience with from mothers, female teachers, girls, and women today. This is increasing due to both greater feelings of superiority by women and more accepted modeling from teachers, the media, and many other women they see in society today who are using this almost institutionally accepted use of more verbal, silent abuse, and much more patronization, sometimes with the intent put something over on some usually more naïve boy or man who is being sincere and not looking for such subtle abuse. This has sadly become very common among many girls and women today. This is the only connection with feminism tending to add more hurt to boys and men. This very great differential treatment over time is creating an ever increasing gulf in academic and information age achievement. This is also creating a growing gulf in understanding each other by gender. Our reactions from distrust, resentment, and fear from various events and interactions between girls and boys; men and women; can become much worse, even more hostile over time. We must look beyond the very simple expressions and interactions and see much more deeply into how our individual environments, differential treatment, and the information age could create more devastating problems in the future for boys and girls, and later for men and women. With increasingly, more boys and men losing their feelings of self-worth and loss of ability to even support themselves on top of the already present abuse they are receiving, this could cause the two groups to become even more distant (a gender divide by true wealth collectively greatly favoring women); and more hate toward each other in the future; this could bring about more open verbal and much more physical abuse by men toward women. My learning theory provides wonderful tools we can all use to continually change and improve our lives, freeing us all from the very harmful, false teaching of genetics permanence in ability or sheer effort. My learning theory and its applications will go to all on request and provides tools all of us can use to continually change and improve our lives.
    Oh, the idea of women making 80 Cents for a man’s dollar is understood by the belief boys should be strong allowing respect for boys/men only according to achievement, status, image, and money. This creates a never ending drug effect for many of those boys/men who feel they must keep achieving in order to keep receiving love and honor from society. This has already created some very rich men in the world whose earnings definitely tip the scale in favor of men, while the vast majority of boys, later men are failing in school and society.
    For women the belief women should be protected also allows for love and honor simply for being girls/women. This allows for much more satisfaction and fulfillment in areas we may find more enjoyable and enriching in our lives. However, as the middle class continues to drop there will be fewer boys/men given the proper support, stability, and care to become higher achievers, this will then create much more stagnation for boys and men later. As is the case now, more and more women will simply choose to go into those more open stem and other professional areas. They will then take over those areas just as we have already taken over in many other areas of society.

    This graph is a first attempt to see the effects of socially provided stability, knowledge, and support affect mental and emotional growth for Males and Females of different races. The middle of the graph represents the point at which stability, knowledge, and support provided are highest. This is also the point at which both over-aggression toward Males by society and over-protection toward Females by society are minimized. Most important, I hope this helps to show how socialization and environment, not genetics is responsible for individual and group differences in mental, emotional, social, academic, and finally economic competition. In addition, society is becoming more unstable each day with much more aggression toward Males. With this condition rapidly changing, many more Males will slide off the left side of the Graph due to increased aggression toward them. There will be more Females moving toward the center of the Graph. This will create a rapidly changing power structure with Females in higher paying jobs (white collar positions, more Males subordinate) and Females in positions of power. This could hasten a collective retaliation by Males due to this growing imbalance. I feel many in education and sociology are seeing this condition but having not read my learning theory, they do not appreciate the harmful implications for Females surging ahead of so many Males who are falling behind. mayfieldga@gmail.com

    Left Side represents increased aggression given to Males by Society Right side represents increased protection given to Females by Society

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