Tag Archives: Gender

University of Basel study: Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds

14 Jan

Gary Wilson wrote a thoughtful article about some of the learning challenges faced by boys. Boys Barriers to Learning which was incorporated into his books https://www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.com/ He lists several barriers to learning in this article:

1. Early years
a. Language development problems
b. Listening skills development
2. Writing skills and learning outcomes
A significant barrier to many boys’ learning, that begins at quite an early age and often never leaves them, is the perception that most writing that they are expected to do is largely irrelevant and unimportant….
3. Gender bias
Gender bias in everything from resources to teacher expectations has the potential to present further barriers to boys’ learning. None more so than the gender bias evident in the ways in which we talk to boys and talk to girls. We need to be ever mindful of the frequency, the nature and the quality of our interactions with boys and our interactions with girls in the classroom….A potential mismatch of teaching and learning styles to boys’ preferred ways of working continues to be a barrier for many boys….
4. Reflection and evaluation
The process of reflection is a weakness in many boys, presenting them with perhaps one of the biggest barriers of all. The inability of many boys to, for example, write evaluations, effectively stems from this weakness….
5. Self-esteem issues
Low self-esteem is clearly a very significant barrier to many boys’ achievement in school. If we were to think of the perfect time to de-motivate boys, when would that be? Some might say in the early years of education when many get their first unwelcome and never forgotten taste of failure might believe in the system… and themselves, for a while, but not for long….
6. Peer pressure
Peer pressure, or the anti-swot culture, is clearly a major barrier to many boys’ achievement. Those lucky enough to avoid it tend to be good academically, but also good at sport. This gives them a licence to work hard as they can also be ‘one of the lads’. …To me one of the most significant elements of peer pressure for boys is the impact it has on the more affective domains of the curriculum, namely expressive, creative and performing arts. It takes a lot of courage for a boy to turn up for the first day at high school carrying a violin case….
7. Talk to them!
There are many barriers to boys’ learning (I’m currently saying 31, but I’m still working on it!) and an ever-increasing multitude of strategies that we can use to address them. I firmly believe that a close examination of a school’s own circumstances is the only way to progress through this maze and that the main starting point has to be with the boys themselves. They do know all the issues around their poor levels of achievement. Talk to them first. I also believe that one of the most important strategies is to let them know you’re ‘on their case’, talking to them provides this added bonus….

If your boy has achievement problems, Wilson emphasizes that there is no one answer to address the problems. There are issues that will be specific to each child.

Science Daily reported in Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds:

Callous-unemotional traits have been linked to deficits in development of the conscience and of empathy. Children and adolescents react less to negative stimuli; they often prefer risky activities and show less caution or fear. In recent years, researchers and doctors have given these personality traits increased attention, since they have been associated with the development of more serious and persistent antisocial behavior.
However, until now, most research in this area has focused on studying callous-unemotional traits in populations with a psychiatric diagnosis, especially conduct disorder. This meant that it was unclear whether associations between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure were only present in clinical populations with increased aggression, or whether the antisocial behavior and aggression explained the brain differences.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to take a closer look at the brain development of typically-developing teenagers to find out whether callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure. The researchers were particularly interested to find out if the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure differs between boys and girls. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171227100037.htm

Citation:

Callous and unemotional traits show in brain structure of boys only, study finds
Date: December 27, 2017
Source: University of Basel
Summary:
allous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure in boys, but not girls. This report is based on a study on brain development in 189 adolescents.

Journal Reference:
1. Nora Maria Raschle, Willeke Martine Menks, Lynn Valérie Fehlbaum, Martin Steppan, Areti Smaragdi, Karen Gonzalez-Madruga, Jack Rogers, Roberta Clanton, Gregor Kohls, Anne Martinelli, Anka Bernhard, Kerstin Konrad, Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Christine M. Freitag, Graeme Fairchild, Stephane A. De Brito, Christina Stadler. Callous-unemotional traits and brain structure: Sex-specific effects in anterior insula of typically-developing youths. NeuroImage: Clinical, 2018; 17: 856 DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.12.015

Here is the press release from University of Basel:

27 December 2017
Callous and Unemotional Traits Show in Brain Structure of Boys Only
Callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure in boys, but not girls. This reports a European research team led by the University of Basel and University of Basel Psychiatric Hospital in a study on brain development in 189 adolescents. The journal Neuroimage: Clinical has published the results.
Callous-unemotional traits have been linked to deficits in development of the conscience and of empathy. Children and adolescents react less to negative stimuli; they often prefer risky activities and show less caution or fear. In recent years, researchers and doctors have given these personality traits increased attention, since they have been associated with the development of more serious and persistent antisocial behavior.
However, until now, most research in this area has focused on studying callous-unemotional traits in populations with a psychiatric diagnosis, especially conduct disorder. This meant that it was unclear whether associations between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure were only present in clinical populations with increased aggression, or whether the antisocial behavior and aggression explained the brain differences.
Related Links
• FemNat-CD
Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to take a closer look at the brain development of typically-developing teenagers to find out whether callous-unemotional traits are linked to differences in brain structure. The researchers were particularly interested to find out if the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and brain structure differs between boys and girls.
Only boys show differences in brain structure
The findings show that in typically-developing boys, the volume of the anterior insula – a brain region implicated in recognizing emotions in others and empathy – is larger in those with higher levels of callous-unemotional traits. This variation in brain structure was only seen in boys, but not in girls with the same personality traits.
“Our findings demonstrate that callous-unemotional traits are related to differences in brain structure in typically-developing boys without a clinical diagnosis,” explains lead author Nora Maria Raschle from the University and the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland. “In a next step, we want to find out what kind of trigger leads some of these children to develop mental health problems later in life while others never develop problems.”
This study is part of the FemNAT-CD project, a large Europe-wide research project aiming at investigating neurobiology and treatment of adolescent female conduct disorder.
Original article
Nora Maria Raschle et al. Callous-unemotional traits and brain structure: Sex-specific effects in anterior insula of typically-developing youths
Neuro Image: Clinical (2018) | doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.12.015
________________________________________
Further Information
Dr. Nora Maria Raschle, University of Basel, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, phone: +41 61 265 89 75, email: nora.raschle@upkbs.ch

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country because too many social engineers are advocating that there is no difference between cognitive and behavior of the genders. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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City University London study: Infants prefer toys typed to their gender

24 Jul

Some in society are pushing the concept of gender-neutral.  Alina Tugend wrote Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Overcoming gender disparities may require us to take a more nuanced approach to problem solving. For example, if we want more girls and women, who are now woefully underrepresented, to take more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, and we agree that it’s not innate ability holding them back, the answer might be to show scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to be attractive and caring rather than nerdy. Or change the physical environment of classrooms and laboratories to make them more appealing to girls.

Then again, does this counter or reinforce gender stereotypes? Good people disagree.

One thing that’s easy to forget, as Janet Hyde points out, is that variations within genders are greater than variations between them. I see the truth of that in my own home. Both my boys are into sports, but one is far more talkative and intellectually curious, while the other ranks higher on intuition and emotional intelligence. If they were a boy and a girl, it would be easy to attribute these differences to gender. As it is, I guess I’ll have to blame—or credit—the vast and ever-shifting mishmash of biology, parenting, peer influence, and culture.                                                                                      http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/engendering-sons-it-doable-or-even-desirable

One study points to the idea that gender concept starts early.

Science Daily reported in Infants prefer toys typed to their gender:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys….

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9-17months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”                                                                                                                     https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160715114739.htm

Citation:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Date:        July 15, 2016

Source:    City University

Summary:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study. The research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

Journal Reference:

  1. Brenda K. Todd, John A. Barry, Sara A. O. Thommessen. Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months. Infant and Child Development, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/icd.1986

View Full Article (HTML) Enhanced Article (HTML) Get PDF (128K)

Keywords:

  • sex differences;
  • toy preference;
  • play;
  • infancy;
  • gender differences

Many studies have found that a majority of boys and girls prefer to play with toys that are typed to their own gender but there is still uncertainty about the age at which such sex differences first appear, and under what conditions. Applying a standardized research protocol and using a selection of gender-typed toys, we observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N = 40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N = 29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N  = 32). Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed with regard to biological predispositions, cognitive development and environmental influences on toy preference. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Here is the press release from City University:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys

First published Wednesday, 20th July, 2016 • by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys.

Speaking about the study, Dr Brenda Todd, a senior lecturer in psychology at City University said:

“Sex differences in play and toy choice are of interest in relation to child care, educational practice and developmental theory. Historically there has been uncertainty about the origins of boys’ and girls’ preferences for play with toys typed to their own sex and the developmental processes that underlie this behaviour. As a result we set out to find out whether a preference occurs and at what age it develops.

“Biological differences give boys an aptitude for mental rotation and more interest and ability in spatial processing, while girls are more interested in looking at faces and better at fine motor skills and manipulating objects. When we studied toy preference in a familiar nursery setting with parents absent, the differences we saw were consistent with these aptitudes. Although there was variability between individual children, we found that, in general, boys played with male-typed toys more than female-typed toys and girls played with female-typed toys more than male-typed toys.

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9–17 months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”

‘Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months’ by Brenda K. Todd et al is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development. View the full article   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/icd.1986/full

Melanie Phillips of the Spectator wrote in It’s dangerous and wrong to tell all children they’re ‘gender fluid’:

In short, the political class is obsessed by gender issues. I trust you are, too. Surely you can reel off the differences between trans, intersex, polygender, asexual, gender–neutral and genderqueer? Do keep up. We’re all gender fluid now, no?

No. Gender is not fluid. What is fluid, however, is the language.

The notion that gender can be deconstructed in accordance with ideology started in the 1970s when (ironically, in view of the Greer row) it was promoted by feminists for whom gender was not a biological fact but a social construct. But it’s not. Gender derives from a complex relationship between biological sex and behaviour. And nature and nurture are not easily separable. Some unfortunates feel they are trapped in the wrong gender. Surgery may or may not resolve this confusion. Many who change sex still don’t feel comfortable; tragically, some even commit suicide.

Crucially, however, such people are desperate to make that change. That’s because for trans people gender is certainly not irrelevant but is of all–consuming importance. Yet Miller and her committee would deprive them of the ability to announce their new sexual identity on passports or other official documents.

Is this not, by Miller’s own logic, cruelty to trans people? But of course logic doesn’t come into this. Gender politics is all about subjective feelings. It has nothing to do with fairness or equality. It embodies instead an extreme egalitarianism which holds that any evidence of difference is a form of prejudice….                                                                                                                            http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/its-dangerous-and-wrong-to-tell-all-children-theyre-gender-fluid/

The only that is certain is the PC class will hate the City University study.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©                                                http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                                         http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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Cornell University study: Women preferred for tenure-track STEM positions

22 Apr

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 and http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html   Jason DeParle reported in the New York Times article, For Poor Strivers, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/education/poor-students-struggle-as-class-plays-a-greater-role-in-success.html?hpw&_r=0

Social class and background may not only affect an individual student’s choice of major, but their completion of college in that major. Nick De Santis reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Examines College Students’ Attrition From STEM Majors:

Twenty-eight percent of bachelor’s-degree students who began their postsecondary education in the 2003-4 academic year chose a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at some point within six years, but 48 percent of students who entered those fields during that period had left them by the spring of 2009, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Education Department’s statistical arm.
The report, which addresses attrition from the so-called STEM fields, also includes information on students pursuing associate degrees. It says that 20 percent of such students had chosen a STEM major within that six-year period and notes that 69 percent of them had left the STEM fields by the spring of 2009.
Of the students who left STEM fields, the report says, roughly half switched their major to a non-STEM field, and the rest left college without earning a degree or certificate. The report notes that fields such as the humanities and education experienced higher levels of attrition than did the STEM disciplines.
The report identifies several factors associated with a higher probability of switching out of STEM majors, such as taking lighter STEM course loads or less-challenging math classes in the first year, and earning lower grades in STEM courses than in others….
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/report-examines-college-students-attrition-from-stem-majors/69705?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

A Cornell University study found that should women remain in STEM programs they might be preferred for tenure-track faculty positions.

Allie Bidwell reported in the U.S. News article, Report: Faculty Prefer Women for Tenure-Track STEM Positions:

In a nationwide study from the Cornell Institute for Women in Science – published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci found tenure-track faculty in engineering, economics, biology and psychology fields generally favored hiring female candidates over otherwise identical male candidates by a 2-to-1 margin. A series of five experiments were conducted on 873 faculty members at 371 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The stark underrepresentation of women in math-intensive STEM fields, the authors suggest, is more a result of obstacles at the front end that prevent women from applying for faculty positions in the first place. Meanwhile, it appears gender diversity has become more valued among college faculty…

In the first experiment, the researchers presented the faculty decision-makers with two highly qualified candidates who were equal other than their gender, as well as a third, slightly less-qualified male candidate. Overall, 67.3 percent of faculty ranked the female candidate first, which was consistent across varying lifestyles such as being married or single or having or not having young children.

But other variations showed some lifestyle choices may influence how hiring decisions are made.

A second experiment presented male and female candidates with nonmatching lifestyles: a divorced mother with two young children and an absent ex-spouse competing with a married father with two young children and a stay-at-home wife, for example. In that scenario, female faculty strongly preferred divorced mothers over married fathers (71.4 percent compared with 28.6 percent), while male faculty showed the opposite trend, just not as strongly (42.9 percent compared with 57.1 percent).

When focusing on whether candidates took parental leave during graduate school, male faculty members by a 2-1 margin preferred female candidates who took a one-year leave over those who did not. Male and female faculty showed no preference between male candidates who did or did not take leave, but female faculty members tended to prefer female candidates who did not take leave.

“Women’s perceptions that an extended maternity leave will cause them to be viewed as less committed to their profession may influence some women to opt out entirely,” the study said.
A fourth experiment was conducted to determine whether faculty decision-makers would still rank female candidates higher if they were presented with full CVs, as opposed to narrative summaries with notes from a search committee, and the researchers found similar results. Finally, a fifth experiment presented faculty with one applicant to rate – to see if they would still prefer a female if they couldn’t choose among men and women – and found the faculty members still favored female applicants….

Still, other studies have found evidence of gender bias in STEM related fields.
“When looking at gender bias in science, it’s very important to look at what particular context,” says David Miller, a graduate student at Northwestern University who has studied gender representation in STEM. “The fact there was a preference for female candidates is perhaps not that surprising if you consider many of these faculty hiring boards are looking to diversify their group of faculty. There are other contexts that do show gender bias against females.”

In 2012, Corinne Moss-Racusin, an assistant professor of psychology at Skidmore College, published research that showed strong gender bias in hiring for a lab manager position. Moss-Racusin and her colleagues asked more than 100 STEM professors to assess fictitious resumes that only differed in the name of the applicant (John vs. Jennifer). Despite being otherwise identical in qualifications, the female applicant was seen as less competent – and the scientists were less willing to mentor the candidate or hire her for the position, and recommended paying her a lower salary.

Williams and Ceci argue in an appendix to their study that Moss-Racusin’s research differs from their own because it focuses on biases against female undergraduate students, rather than those who have already earned a doctorate. The results of Moss-Racusin’s study likely doesn’t explain the underrepresentation of women in academia, Williams and Ceci wrote, because few lab managers go on to tenure-track positions later in their careers…. http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2015/04/13/report-faculty-prefer-women-for-tenure-track-stem-positions

Citation:

National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track

1. Wendy M. Williams1 and
2. Stephen J. Ceci

Significance

The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

Abstract

National randomized experiments and validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants’ profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. Results revealed a 2:1 preference for women by faculty of both genders across both math-intensive and non–math-intensive fields, with the single exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Results were replicated using weighted analyses to control for national sample characteristics. In follow-up experiments, 144 faculty evaluated competing applicants with differing lifestyles (e.g., divorced mother vs. married father), and 204 faculty compared same-gender candidates with children, but differing in whether they took 1-y-parental leaves in graduate school. Women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers; men preferred mothers who took leaves to mothers who did not. In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders. These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/1418878112

Here is the press release from Cornell University:

April 13, 2015

Women preferred 2:1 over men for STEM faculty positions

By   Ted Boscia

For decades, sexism in higher education has been blamed for blocking women from landing academic positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
But a new study by Cornell psychologists suggests that era has ended, finding in experiments with professors from 371 colleges and universities across the United States that science and engineering faculty preferred women two-to-one over identically qualified male candidates for assistant professor positions.

Published online April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper, “National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2:1 Faculty Preference For Women on STEM Tenure Track,” by Wendy M. Williams, professor of human development, and Stephen J. Ceci, the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, both in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, argues that the academic job market has never been better for women Ph.D.s in math-intensive fields.

Williams and Ceci conducted five randomized controlled experiments with 873 tenure-track faculty in all 50 U.S. states to assess gender bias. In three studies, faculty evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical male and female applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships in biology, economics, engineering and psychology. In a fourth experiment, engineering faculty evaluated full CVs instead of narratives, and in a fifth study, faculty evaluated one candidate (either a man or identically qualified woman) without comparison to an opposite-gender candidate. Candidates’ personalities were systematically varied to disguise the hypotheses.

The only evidence of bias the authors discovered was in favor of women; faculty in all four disciplines preferred female applicants to male candidates, with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.

In some conditions, Williams and Ceci also matched applicants on job qualifications and lifestyle characteristics such as marital and parental status and used contrasting lifestyles in others. They examined attributes such as being a single mother, having a stay-at-home partner and past choices about taking parental leave. These experiments revealed that female faculty preferred divorced mothers over married fathers and male faculty preferred mothers who took leaves over mothers who did not.

“Efforts to combat formerly widespread sexism in hiring appear to have succeeded,” Williams and Ceci write. “Our data suggest it is an auspicious time to be a talented woman launching a STEM tenure-track academic career, contrary to findings from earlier investigations alleging bias, none of which examined faculty hiring bias against female applicants in the disciplines in which women are underrepresented. Our research suggests that the mechanism resulting in women’s underrepresentation today may lie more on the supply side, in women’s decisions not to apply, than on the demand side, in anti-female bias in hiring.”

“Women struggling with the quandary of how to remain in the academy but still have extended leave time with new children, and debating having children in graduate school versus waiting until tenure, may be heartened to learn that female candidates depicted as taking one-year parental leaves in our study were ranked higher by predominantly male voting faculties than identically qualified mothers who did not take leaves,” the authors continue.

Real-world academic hiring data validate the findings, too. The paper notes recent national census-type studies showing that female Ph.D.s are disproportionately less likely to apply for tenure-track positions, yet when they do they are more likely to be hired, in some science fields approaching the two-to-one ratio revealed by Williams and Ceci.
The authors note that greater gender awareness in the academy and the retirement of older, more sexist faculty may have gradually led to a more welcoming environment for women in academic science.

Despite these successes, Williams and Ceci acknowledge that women face other barriers to entry during adolescence and young adulthood, in graduate school and later in their careers as academic scientists, particularly when balancing motherhood and careers. They are currently analyzing national data on mentorship, authorship decisions and tenure advice, all as a function of gender, to better understand women and men’s decisions to apply to, and persist in, academic science. Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/04/women-preferred-21-over-men-stem-faculty-positions

The Cornell study points to the need for good science education to prepare a diverse population for opportunities. K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”

Related:

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning

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http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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American Psychological Association study: Girls make higher grades than boys

30 Apr

Moi has posted quite a bit about gender differences. In Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say:
Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus. The American Psychological Association (APA) released a study which shows that girls have historically achieved at higher levels than boys.

Science Daily reported in the article, Girls make higher grades than boys in all school subjects, analysis finds:

Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association….
Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science. The female advantage in school performance in math and science did not become apparent until junior or middle school, according to the study, published in the APA journal Psychological Bulletin. The degree of gender difference in grades increased from elementary to middle school, but decreased between high school and college.
The researchers examined 369 samples from 308 studies, reflecting grades of 538,710 boys and 595,332 girls. Seventy percent of the samples consisted of students from the United States. Other countries or regions represented by more than one sample included Norway, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom Africa and Finland. Countries represented by one sample included Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Slovenia.
All studies included an evaluation of gender differences in teacher-assigned grades or official grade point averages in elementary, junior/middle or high school, or undergraduate and graduate university. Studies that relied on self-report and those about special populations, such as high-risk or mentored students, were excluded. The studies also looked at variables that might affect the students’ grades, such as the country where students attended school, course material, students’ ages at the time the grades were obtained, the study date and racial composition of the samples.
The study reveals that recent claims of a “boy crisis,” with boys lagging behind girls in school achievement, are not accurate because girls’ grades have been consistently higher than boys’ across several decades with no significant changes in recent years, the authors wrote.
“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick.
As for why girls perform better in school than boys, the authors speculated that social and cultural factors could be among several possible explanations. Parents may assume boys are better at math and science so they might encourage girls to put more effort into their studies, which could lead to the slight advantage girls have in all courses, they wrote. Gender differences in learning styles is another possibility. Previous research has shown girls tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades. “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429104957.htm

Citation:

Girls make higher grades than boys in all school subjects, analy
Date: April 29, 2014
Source: American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences,” said lead study author.
Journal Reference:
1. Daniel Voyer, Susan D. Voyer. Gender differences in scholastic achievement: A meta-analysis.. Psychological Bulletin, 2014; DOI: 10.1037/a0036620

Here is the press release from the APA:

April 29, 2014
Girls Make Higher Grades than Boys in All School Subjects, Analysis Finds
For math, science, boys lead on achievement tests while girls do better on classroom grades, research reveals
WASHINGTON — Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association.
“Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences.”
Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science. The female advantage in school performance in math and science did not become apparent until junior or middle school, according to the study, published in the APA journal Psychological Bulletin®. The degree of gender difference in grades increased from elementary to middle school, but decreased between high school and college.
The researchers examined 369 samples from 308 studies, reflecting grades of 538,710 boys and 595,332 girls. Seventy percent of the samples consisted of students from the United States. Other countries or regions represented by more than one sample included Norway, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Africa and Finland. Countries represented by one sample included Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Slovenia.
Related
• Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis (PDF, 251KB) http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/bul-a0036620.pdf
All studies included an evaluation of gender differences in teacher-assigned grades or official grade point averages in elementary, junior/middle or high school, or undergraduate and graduate university. Studies that relied on self-report and those about special populations, such as high-risk or mentored students, were excluded. The studies also looked at variables that might affect the students’ grades, such as the country where students attended school, course material, students’ ages at the time the grades were obtained, the study date and racial composition of the samples.
The study reveals that recent claims of a “boy crisis,” with boys lagging behind girls in school achievement, are not accurate because girls’ grades have been consistently higher than boys’ across several decades with no significant changes in recent years, the authors wrote.
“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick.
As for why girls perform better in school than boys, the authors speculated that social and cultural factors could be among several possible explanations. Parents may assume boys are better at math and science so they might encourage girls to put more effort into their studies, which could lead to the slight advantage girls have in all courses, they wrote. Gender differences in learning styles is another possibility. Previous research has shown girls tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades. “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.
Article: “Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis,” Daniel Voyer, PhD, and Susan D. Voyer, MASc, University of New Brunswick, Psychological Bulletin, online April 28, 2014.
Daniel Voyer can be contacted by email or by phone at 1-506-453-4974.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

Boys’ Barriers to Learning and Achievement

Gary Wilson wrote a thoughtful article about some of the learning challenges faced by boys. Boys Barriers to Learning He lists several barriers to learning in his article.

1. Early years
a. Language development problems
b. Listening skills development
2. Writing skills and learning outcomes
A significant barrier to many boys’ learning, that begins at quite an early age and often never leaves them, is the perception that most writing that they are expected to do is largely irrelevant and unimportant….
3. Gender bias
Gender bias in everything from resources to teacher expectations has the potential to present further barriers to boys’ learning. None more so than the gender bias evident in the ways in which we talk to boys and talk to girls. We need to be ever mindful of the frequency, the nature and the quality of our interactions with boys and our interactions with girls in the classroom….A potential mismatch of teaching and learning styles to boys’ preferred ways of working continues to be a barrier for many boys….
4. Reflection and evaluation
The process of reflection is a weakness in many boys, presenting them with perhaps one of the biggest barriers of all. The inability of many boys to, for example, write evaluations, effectively stems from this weakness….
5. Self-esteem issues
Low self-esteem is clearly a very significant barrier to many boys’ achievement in school. If we were to think of the perfect time to de-motivate boys, when would that be? Some might say in the early years of education when many get their first unwelcome and never forgotten taste of failure might believe in the system… and themselves, for a while, but not for long….
6. Peer pressure
Peer pressure, or the anti-swot culture, is clearly a major barrier to many boys’ achievement. Those lucky enough to avoid it tend to be good academically, but also good at sport. This gives them a licence to work hard as they can also be ‘one of the lads’. …To me one of the most significant elements of peer pressure for boys is the impact it has on the more affective domains of the curriculum, namely expressive, creative and performing arts. It takes a lot of courage for a boy to turn up for the first day at high school carrying a violin case….
7. Talk to them!
There are many barriers to boys’ learning (I’m currently saying 31, but I’m still working on it!) and an ever-increasing multitude of strategies that we can use to address them. I firmly believe that a close examination of a school’s own circumstances is the only way to progress through this maze and that the main starting point has to be with the boys themselves. They do know all the issues around their poor levels of achievement. Talk to them first. I also believe that one of the most important strategies is to let them know you’re ‘on their case’, talking to them provides this added bonus….

If your boy has achievement problems, Wilson emphasizes that there is no one answer to address the problems. There are issues that will be specific to each child.

John Hechinger wrote in Bloomberg/Business Week about the data, Women Top Men In Earning Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Data Shows http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-10/women-top-men-at-earning-bachelor-s-degrees-u-s-data-show.html There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys has some great strategies for helping boys learn. http://www.pbs.org/parents/raisingboys/school04.html
Trying to pretend there are no gender differences is leading to some differences in outcome for many male children. Even Beltrand and Pan want very badly to emphasize environmental factors, which are important, but clearly is an P.C. explanation which skates over biological gender differences.

Those trendy intellectuals who want to homogenize personalities into some “metrosexual ideal are sacrificing the lives of many children for their cherished ideal of some sociological utopia.
There is no one solution to solving a child’s achievement problems and a variety of tools may prove useful. Whether there is a “boy crisis” can be debated. The research is literally all over the map and a variety of positions can find some study to validate that position. If your child has achievement and social adjustment problems, whether there is an overall crisis is irrelevant, you feel you are in a crisis situation. There is no one solution, be open to using a variety of tools and strategies.

So, how is your boy doing?

There should not be a one size fits all approach. Strategies must be designed for each population of kids.

Other Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading http://gettingboystoread.com/content/classroom-strategies-get-boys-reading/

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/brochure/meread/meread.pdf

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4423.pdf

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-2/boys.html

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success http://www.k12reader.com/boys-and-reading/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART© http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews © http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

7 Jan

Moi wrote about gender differences in Boys are different from girls despite what the culture is trying to say

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

Quite often, children who are disciplined tend to be boys and more often than not, boys of color. The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports about the Texas study conducted under the auspices of the Council of State Governments. Martha Plotkin reports at the Council of State Governments site in the article, Out of Class Into Court Discretion in School Discipline has Big Impacts, Groundbreaking CSG Study Finds:

The numbers are startling.

Nearly 60 percent of students in Texas received at least one disciplinary action—including in-school suspensions ranging from a single class period to several days, with no cap on how many suspensions they can receive in a school year;

More than 30 percent had out-of-school suspensions of up to three days, with no cap on the number in a year;

About 15 percent were sent to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs for an average of 27 days;

Approximately 8 percent were placed in Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs, averaging 73 days.

Those are some of the findings from a recent report, Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement. The study, released July 19, was a partnership between The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M….

Students who were repeatedly disciplined often experienced poor outcomes at particularly high rates. The Texas study found that 15 percent of Texas students had 11 or more disciplinary violations between seventh and 12th grades; about half of those frequent violators had subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. Repeated suspensions and expulsions also predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once, compared with 5 percent of students who had not been disciplined.

Even students who were disciplined less frequently were still more likely to repeat a grade or drop out. A student who had experienced a discretionary disciplinary action was twice as likely to repeat a grade as a student who had the same characteristics and attended a similar school but was not suspended or expelled. The results were also troubling in regard to keeping students with disciplinary histories in school. Nearly 10 percent of students with at least one disciplinary contact dropped out of school, compared to just 2 percent of students with no disciplinary actions.

http://www.csg.org/pubs/capitolideas/sep_oct_2011/schooldiscipline.aspx

Some in the current culture do not want to recognize that boys have different styles, because to say otherwise is just not politically correct (P.C.). Being P.C., however, is throwing a lot of kids under the bus. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/02/boys-are-different-from-girls-despite-what-the-culture-is-trying-to-say/

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, Elementary School Bias Against Boys Sets Them Up For Failure: Study:

Academics from the University of Georgia and Columbia University think they have more insight into why girls earn higher grades on report cards than boys do, despite the fact that girls do not necessarily outperform boys on achievement or IQ tests.

Christopher Cornwell, head of economics at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, UGA’s David Mustard and Columbia’s Jessica Van Parys have published a study that they say shows “gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls.”

The researchers analyzed data from 5,800 elementary school students and found that boys performed better on standardized exams in math, reading and science than their course grades reflected. The authors suggest that girls are truly only outperforming boys in “non-cognitive approaches to learning” — defined as attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization — leading to better grades from teachers. The study is published in the latest issue of The Journal of Human Resources. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/elementary-school-bias-boys_n_2404898.html

The University of Georgia highlights Professor Cornwell’s research in the following press release, Why girls are better students, even when they’re not:

Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys—even when they perform worse on standardized tests?

New research from the University of Georgia and Columbia University and published in the current issue of Journal of Human Resources, suggests that it’s because of their classroom behavior, which may lead teachers to assign girls higher grades than their male counterparts.

The skill that matters the most in regards to how teachers graded their students is what we refer to as ‘approaches toward learning,’” said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics at UGA’s Terry College of Business and one of the study’s authors. “You can think of ‘approaches to learning’ as a rough measure of what a child’s attitude toward school is: It includes six items that rate the child’s attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility, and organization. I think that anybody who’s a parent of boys and girls can tell you that girls are more of all of that.”

The study, co-authored by Cornwell and David Mustard at UGA and Jessica Van Parys at Columbia, analyzed data on more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It examined students’ performance on standardized tests in three categories—reading, math and science—linking test scores to teachers’ assessments of their students’ progress, both academically and more broadly.

The data show, for the first time, that gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls. In every subject area, boys are represented in grade distributions below where their test scores would predict.

The authors attribute this misalignment to what they called non-cognitive skills, or “how well each child was engaged in the classroom, how often the child externalized or internalized problems, how often the child lost control, and how well the child developed interpersonal skills.” They even report evidence of a grade bonus for boys with test scores and behavior like their girl counterparts.

This difference can have long-reaching effects, Cornwell said.

The trajectory at which a kid moves through school is often influenced by a teacher’s assessment of their performance, their grades. This affects their ability to enter into advanced classes and other kinds of academic opportunities, even post-secondary opportunities,” he said. “It’s also typically the grades you earn in school that are weighted the most heavily in college admissions. So if grade disparities emerge this early on, it’s not surprising that by the time these children are ready to go to college, girls will be better positioned.”

Research about gender differences in the classroom and beyond has grabbed headlines recently. Titles like Hannah Rosin’s “The End of Men and the Rise of Women” and Kay Hymowitz’s “Manning Up” have spent months on best-seller lists and inspired countless discussions in the media.

We seem to have gotten to a point in the popular consciousness where people are recognizing the story in these data: Men are falling behind relative to women. Economists have looked at this from a number of different angles, but it’s in educational assessments that you make your mark for the labor market,” Cornwell said. “Men’s rate of college going has slowed in recent years whereas women’s has not, but if you roll the story back far enough, to the 60s and 70s, women were going to college in much fewer numbers. It’s at a point now, where you’ve got women earning upward of 60 percent of the bachelors’ degrees awarded every year.”

But despite changing college demographics, the new data may not be reflecting anything fundamentally new.

My argument is that this has always been true about boys and girls. Girls didn’t all of the sudden become more engaged and boys didn’t suddenly become more rambunctious,” Cornwell said. “Their attitudes toward learning were always this way. But it didn’t show up in educational attainment like it does today because of all the factors that previously discouraged women’s participation in the labor force, such as a lack of access to reliable birth control.”

What remains unclear, however, is how to combat this discrepancy.

The most common question we’ve gotten is whether or not the gender of the teacher matters in regards to grading students,” Cornwell said. “But that’s a question we can’t answer because there’s just not enough data available. As you can probably guess, the great majority of elementary school teachers are women.”

See, Girls Outpace Boys Mostly Due to Classroom Behavior http://www.educationnews.org/international-uk/girls-outpace-boys-mostly-due-to-classroom-behavior/

Sarah D. Sparks posted Report Points to Widening Gap In Boys’ Education Attainment at Education Week.

As the needs of global labor change and college readiness standards increase, American boys have been slower to adapt than girls, according to a report set to be released this morning.

Thomas Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, in Washington, has been arguing since the mid-1990s that American men are treading water economically as women gain ground. His latest report, Economic Change Effects on Men, presented at the Washington-based Boys Initiative meeting this morning, expands his workforce and higher education data to K-12 education.

Mortenson argues that teaching styles and discipline policies cause boys to disengage sooner than girls and drop out at higher rates. Among his findings:

In 2010, 72.8 percent of children lived with a father, down from 88.8 percent in 1960, when these data were first reported.

In 2010, 62.8 percent of young men who graduated from high school enrolled in college, up 7.6 percentage points from 1970, but far below the continuation rate for young women—74 percent in 2010, up 25.5 percentage points from 1970. “Each spring, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out its spring study on recent high school graduates, and I’ve been compiling that data since 1959,” Mortenson told me. “The gap between males and females is now greater than 10 percentage points, and it’s never been that wide before” favoring girls during his years of analysis.

Boys ages 6 to 14 are more than twice as likely as girls to have a developmental disability and three times as likely to be diagnosed with mental retardation.

Mortenson told me he thinks school format is partly to blame, with greater focus on writing and test preparation and fewer opportunities for active projects. As he puts it: “Boys have to be doing something: Things have to be blowing up or being built or going really fast. If you ask them to sit down and write and read, more physically passive activities will turn off boys before they turn off girls.”

There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys advises the following strategies:

Let them play. Give boys lots of opportunities for physical activity and don’t expect them to sit still for long periods of time. “Play is the work of childhood, it’s how kids learn social skills and develop verbal skills, and it’s vanishing from the classroom. Kids are not being allowed to play enough in school, both indoors and outdoors,” says Jane Katch.

Create learning activities where boys use their bodies. “Boys learn best when learning is ‘hands-on.’ They learn by touching, moving, climbing on, and building things. They solve problems physically so if kids are handling real things, they will learn more effectively. This applies to kindergarten and throughout their school experience,” says Joseph Tobin.

Let boys read (and listen to) books that appeal to their interests. “Know your boys, know their passions, and know what books can speak to those passions. Boys are open to reading if they can make their own choices. We read to connect to interests we have and literacy piggybacks on those interests,” says Thomas Newkirk. “I tell my prospective teachers that they should have at least a thousand books in their heads possibilities for students to read. Unless we can build a base in reading thousands and thousands of words our students will never be able to read the classics. And by reading, I think we need to look at all kinds of reading — magazines, graphic novels, humor, etc. — and not just classical literature.”

Read aloud to boys and have them read aloud to you. “One practice that is critical is reading aloud to boys. This stops way too early in homes and in schools. Reading aloud is a bridge to reading the child might do later on, independently,” advises Newkirk.

Allow boys to write about what interests them instead of what interests you. “When children are learning to write, give them opportunities to write about subjects that are most meaningful to them — what they love, what they hate, what scares them and what excites them,” recommends Katch. “This way they will learn the power and significance of using the written word to communicate. If they write in a way that causes others to be disturbed, then talk about ways they can write what is important to them without disturbing others rather than prohibiting their expression. I personally think Pokemon is boring but I know a boy who wrote 27 books about it and went from being a non-writer to a terrific writer. Another”” practice is connecting writing to digital storytelling. I think we need to conceptualize reading and writing as multi-modal involving not only print but music, visuals, and more,” adds Newkirk.

Allow discussion of topics boys may want to talk about (but teachers and girls may not). “In a classroom that allows boys’ thoughts and fantasies to be expressed in their stories and their play, controversial issues will come up. In my class, some children did not want to hear any story that contained killing,” notes Katch. “But several boys complained that their stories of good guys and bad guys sometimes need to contain killing off the bad guy. When we discussed the problem, the children realized that everyone thought it was all right to kill the bad guys; there were objections only when a character was killed who was not clearly bad. So the boys agreed that they would only kill off evil characters. The children realized that by talking about what was important to them, they could communicate with each other and come to an agreement that felt right to everyone.”

Allow boys to express humor in appropriate ways and at appropriate times. “Include satire, parody, and humor in the curriculum, and don’t be too hard on boys who are class clowns. Instead, acknowledge the boy’s skill at being humorous. If the boy gets credit for this quality, he may not repeat the behavior. If you treat a clown as your biggest problem you are creating a conflict. Treat that boy with respect and respectfully ask him to make jokes at another time, if they get out of control,” advises Joseph Tobin. “Sometimes, you just have to have a sense of humor about the boy’s sense of humor. Most teachers I know admit that as annoying as boy humor can be, it can also brighten up the day,” adds Michael Thompson.

Remember, there are different approaches to educating boys than educating girls.

Resources:

Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading

Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills

Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often

Boys and Reading Strategies for Success

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                         http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                             http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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