There should be no difference between the average boy and the average girl in terms of brain power. Sex and gender affect a lot of things, but intelligence shouldn’t be one of them. And yet, boys have been falling behind their female classmates in school for years. Girls seem to get better grades than boys on average, and they are far more likely to go to college and earn degrees.
When we say that this has been happening for years, we’re not kidding. One study by the National Psychological Association found that girls have been doing better in school than boys in nearly every subject since 1914.
Why is this happening? There are few biological factors that make the average girl’s brain superior to the average boy’s brain, so maybe there are other factors at play.
Part of the reason why boys fall behind girls in school could be due to social factors. For example, extracurricular activities that are connected to the arts such as music and drama have been shown to improve academic performance. While these activities don’t favor boys or girls, boys are more likely to face ridicule for engaging in them either from their peers or from their families. In many circles, drama, choir, and orchestra are still considered too “nerdy” or “girly” for boys, so the boys tend to shy away from them.
Traditionally, there has also been less pressure on boys to do well in school. Part of this is because boys were thought to be naturally smarter in areas such as math and science, areas that are more likely to translate into gainful employment when they grow up. The line of thinking was that boys don’t need to try as hard or do as well in school as girls in order to be successful. Boys are often still socialized into thinking that they are to be the breadwinners of their families, and even if they don’t go on to college they can still find blue-collar jobs.
Or so they’ve been told. Sadly, the times have changed, and there aren’t nearly as many blue-collar jobs out there that pay a living wage. A college degree and good grades are practically mandatory for a number of high-paying careers, yet it seems as if our society has yet to catch on to that fact. This means that girls are getting better grades and earning college degrees, while many boys are floundering with grades that don’t get better than “good enough.”
What Can Be Done
The bad news about this gender gap is that it is related to concepts that have been ingrained in our society for generations. Things are changing, but they may not change fast enough to get our boys’ grades to where they should be. What we can do is foster good study habits in our boys and drive home the importance of education. Parents and teachers need to establish a good support system for boys and girls, encourage interests and hobbies outside of school even if they’re “too girly” and make sure that boys and girls are treated equally in the classroom.
The gender gap in our schools can be narrowed, but only if parents and teachers are aware of it. The world now favors the academically successful, and hopefully, future generations will realize that.