Backlash: Girls vs. Boys
The following discussion of a backlash against women's and girls'
achievement in education took place on WMST-L in April 2003. The
discussion also points people to earlier WMST-L discussions that
are also available online. For these earlier discussions and
others, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 09:01:58 +1000
From: Heather Merle Benbow <benbow AT MYRIAD.ITS.UNIMELB.EDU.AU>
Subject: Education backlash
I wonder if anyone can point me to some recent scholarly research into
what I suspect is a backlash against women's and girl's achievement in
education. I'll briefly sketch my thus-far limited understanding of the
At least in Australia there has recently been much handwringing about
boys' alledgedly poorer educational outcomes compared to girls in recent
years. This is often accompanied by complaints about the 'feminisation' of
schools and curricula, that the pendulum has swung 'too far' in favour of
women and girls, and that schools need to tailor their educational
delivery to boys.
There is often an acknowledgement that 'masculine' behaviour is an
impediment to boys' learning yet a reform of education, rather than
masculinity is called for by those who identify the problem.
Just this morning on the radio I heard a New Zealand head teacher from a
boys' school speaking to boys' disadvantage in educational systems. He was
introduced by the announcer commenting that in NZ women occupy all the
important positions (Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice)
and that there was concern that things have gone 'too far'!!! This on our
supposedly left-leaning Radio National.
Does anyone know of RECENT research addressing this issue, particularly
the criticism that feminism has gone 'too far' and that boys are now
'disadvantaged' in education? I am mainly thinking of school education but
anything similar on universities would also be of interest.
Thanks in advance,
Department of German and Swedish Studies
University of Melbourne VIC 3010
benbow AT unimelb.edu.au
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 22:59:26 -0400
From: Mary Catherine Moran <mcm2101 AT COLUMBIA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Education backlash
Here is a brief position paper (_Are Boys Falling Behind in Academics?_)
with a bibliography that might point you toward more sources:
I agree that there is a backlash quality to some of the recent discussions
of this issue (and especially to the notion that there is now a "war"
against boys, which seems rather hyperbolic). However, I wouldn't discount
the claim of poorer educational outcomes for boys. Here in the US, the
evidence is accumulating to suggest that they are indeed falling behind (in
terms of, e.g., high school dropout rates, high school grades, pursuit of
I think we need to resist the temptation to see this as a zero-sum game: if
you're concerned about boys you mustn't care about girls/if you're concerned
about girls you mustn't care about boys. There may be some areas of concern
relating to girls, and other areas of concern relating to boys.
Mary Catherine Moran
mcm2101 AT columbia.edu
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of History
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 20:56:43 -0700
From: Molly Dragiewicz <mdragiew AT gmu.edu>
Subject: Education backlash
AAUW has a report on this issue in the American context.
Beyond the "Gender Wars": A Conversation About Girls, Boys, and
<<Is there a classroom battle of the sexes that girls win only if boys
lose and vice versa? Beyond the "Gender Wars": A Conversation About
Girls, Boys, and Education (2001) offers key insights presented during a
Foundation symposium of scholars who study both girls' and boys'
experiences in and out of school. Participants share their insights
about gender identity and difference, challenge popular views of girls'
and boys' behavior, and explore the meaning of equitable education for
the 21st century.
To purchase this report, visit www.aauw.org or call 800/225-9998.
Also basic resources at David Sadker's website
Women's Studies and Cultural Studies
George Mason University
mdragiew AT gmu.edu
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 16:37:20 +1000
From: Michael Flood <michael.flood AT ANU.EDU.AU>
Subject: Re. Education backlash
Heather Benbow wrote;
>I wonder if anyone can point me to some recent scholarly research into
>what I suspect is a backlash against women's and girl's achievement in
Please see; http://www.xyonline.net/mensbiblio/growingup.html#Heading230
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:01:37 -0400
From: "Moravec, Michelle" <MoravecM AT WPUNJ.EDU>
Subject: Re: Re. Education backlash
The American Council on Higher Education has a great report on this subject
in the U.S. called Gender Equity in Higher Education: Are Male Students at a
You can download the PDF http://www.acenet.edu/bookstore/index.cfm?pubID=206
Michelle Moravec, Ph.D.
Director, Women's Center
William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road, SC 214
Wayne, NJ 07470
973 720 2946
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 11:14:18 -0400
From: Joan Korenman <jskor AT UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Education backlash
--On Wednesday, April 16, 2003 9:01 AM +1000 Heather Merle Benbow
<benbow AT MYRIAD.ITS.UNIMELB.EDU.AU> wrote:
> Does anyone know of RECENT research addressing this issue,
> particularly the criticism that feminism has gone 'too far' and
> that boys are now 'disadvantaged' in education? I am mainly
> thinking of school education but anything similar on universities
> would also be of interest.
I'm not sure what you mean by "recent," but in May/June 2000, there
was a discussion on WMST-L of Christina Hoff Sommers' May 2000
Atlantic Monthly article "The War Against Boys." In that article,
Hoff Sommers claims that feminists have overstated girls' problems
in/with school and that boys are the ones who are really
shortchanged. You can find the WMST-L discussion in the WMST-L File
Collection at http://www.umbc.edu/wmst/wmsttoc.html under the title
"The War Against Boys." The specific URL for this file is
Joan Korenman jskor AT umbc.edu
U. of Md. Baltimore County http://www.umbc.edu/cwit/
Baltimore, MD 21250 USA http://www.umbc.edu/wmst/
The only person to have everything done by Friday is Robinson Crusoe
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:06:23 -0700
From: Betty Glass <glass AT UNR.EDU>
Subject: Education backlash - Take Our Daughters To Work Day resistance
There have been protests about the "Take Our Daughters To Work Day"
initiative. People have complained that this is short-changing the
I've seen newspaper articles about this. You could try databases like
GenderWatch and CWI - Contemporary Women's Issues at your academic
library, if they have them available online, to find articles on this
topic, along with searching the ERIC database, of course.
Betty J. Glass
University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89557-0044
glass AT unr.edu
For information about WMST-L
WMST-L File Collection