The Renewed Gender Wars
As a child, I used to look forward to the fabled moments in recess and gym class when we would play “girls versus boys.” While rare, it was a chance to go head-to-head with my classmates for gender supremacy. The stakes in gym class were bragging rights at best, but when we look at the current educational landscape, the competition between boys and girls is a bit more complicated. In recent years, we have seen the gender gap—the gap in average scores between males and females—reverse with girls surpassing boys in academic subjects like science and reading. This, not surprisingly, has led to a reincarnation of the battle of boys versus girls. But this time, school culture and societal inequality will be up for grabs.
Recently, David Brooks penned an editorial in the New York Times on the gender gap in our schools. Brooks cited research evidence to suggest that schools are geared towards female students, leaving boys at a disadvantage. This is not a wholly original argument, and the response from Soraya Chemalay suggests that any disadvantages that males face in school are but a microcosm of the larger gender inequities that females face in the world-at-large. While both Brooks and Chemalay are rightfully concerned, we must be careful to ensure that the education of children will not be taken as a zero-sum game, where one gender must win and one gender must lose.