By Philip Jones 26th July 2008, guest columnist of Jean Bush.
Last week, The Associated Press proudly reported that in the `largest` study of it's kind, where Mathematics is concerned, girls are now as `tough` as boys. This last bastion of male dominance in education has been breached. Janet Hyde, of the University of Wisconsin Madison, who led the study said, " Girls have now achieved gender parity on standardised Maths Tests".
This relentless war on all fronts against the masculine has been raging for many decades now, not least in our schools and universities. I find myself asking "What is the `Femi` Brigade's` Endgame" ?. Is it to grow a penis on a baby girl and thus perfect the androgynous being they seem intent on creating by all means at their disposal ?Before I digress and go off on one of my `rants`, let's examine this business with maths and education more closely.
As some might know by now, I am British, so I will continue this article based on what is happening in my own sad country.In August, when the GCSE results come out, it is highly likely that, once again, girls will have beaten the boys at the examination game.
For years now, girls have been taking the lion's share of success in public examinations. This year's A and AS-level results were further evidence of the trend. Girls out-performed boys in almost every subject. They took nearly 47,000 more subjects than boys at A-level, and nearly 91,000 more at AS level. And in both exams, they achieved a higher proportion than boys of A grades in almost every subject.
Of course, it is good news that girls are doing so well. But it is worrying that boys seem to be slipping further and further behind. For this trend isn't confined to the high-fliers passing exams. At the bottom of the system, the drop-out rate among boys is causing serious concern.
The reason is nothing other than the wholesale feminisation of the education system. In GCSEs, A-levels and increasingly degree courses too, coursework accounts for an ever greater proportion of the final marks. This in itself favours girls.Boys tend to like 'sudden death' exams. They like taking risks, pitting their wits against the odds. Girls don't. They prefer to work steadily and conscientiously without gambling against memory, the clock and questions from hell. Which is why at degree level boys have until now achieved more firsts and thirds than girls who tend to get safe, if dull, seconds.Nor is it surprising that girls are taking more exams than boys. For the curriculum has expanded in ways that suit girls rather than boys, with a proliferation of discursive, 'soft' subjects like general studies, sociology or drama.
The evidence suggests that boys and girls learn in different ways. Research has found that girls gain more satisfaction than boys from understanding the work they are doing. Boys are more 'ego-related', gaining more satisfaction from competing with each other.
Nevertheless, education policy denies such differences and imposes instead an agenda of 'equality'. For at least twenty years, feminist teachers have made a determined attempt to change a school system they held to be hostile to girls. The assumption was that since boys tended to opt for science, maths and technology and girls for languages, humanities and domestic science, this proved discrimination against girls.
It never occurred to them that this pattern had evolved because each sex naturally gravitated towards these subjects. The view was that boys and girls were identical, and these differences therefore had to be corrected. The result was active discrimination against boys. As James Tooley comments in his book, the Mis-education of Women, girls began to be privileged over boys at school. Teachers gave priority to girls in classroom discussions, playground space and sporting fixtures.
The 'masculine content and orientation' of textbooks, topics and tests was obliterated in favour of female references; teachers were forbidden to use 'sexist' language; and male teachers' bonding with boys through jokes or shared allusions to football had to be reprogrammed out of the system.
During the 1980s, moreover, one project followed another to get girls into studying maths, science and technology.But it wasn't sexism that was keeping girls away from such subjects - it was their choice. For time and again it has been shown that wherever they have the opportunity, boys gravitate naturally to mechanical sciences and girls to discursive or domestic subjects.
Clearly, if any prejudice existed it would be right to address it. But this was not prejudice. It was rather that boys and girls behaved in different ways. This was never an issue in single sex schools. But once co-educational schools became the norm, the differences became striking - and feminism assumed that to be different meant inferiority and discrimination.This was not only wrong in itself. It was also disastrous for boys. For rather than men being masters of the universe as feminists contend, their sense of what they are is fragile. Unless their particular male characteristics are acknowledged and supported, they start sliding downhill and some go off the rails altogether.
In school, boys find girls intrinsically threatening, a fact generally masked at the top of the ability range but in often violent evidence at the bottom. Girls mature earlier than boys, so unless boys are exceptionally able they tend to be outclassed by girls. And if they don't dominate, they tend to give up or drop out.
Because doing well in school involves no manual or physical activity but requires instead sitting quietly, reading and writing, the most vulnerable boys view learning as feminine and `uncool`. And being feminine is their deepest dread.This is because men's sense of their masculinity is far more vulnerable than women's sense of their femininity. Biology reminds girls what they are every month. Boys, by contrast, need to prove their identity and role, particularly among those with poor prospects and few confidence-boosting attributes.
But rather than celebrating male characteristics, society tells boys at every turn that its values have turned female, and that if boys want any place in it they must do so too.
Thus, male characteristics are derided. Warfare is said to be obscene. Authority is oppressive. Chivalry is a joke. Competition creates losers - taboo in education, where everyone must be a winner. Stoicism is despised; instead, tears must flow and hearts be worn on sleeves at all times.
Men, however, define masculinity by being different from women. So this unisex culture has resulted in two things. More men are driven into stereotypical macho behaviour to prove their masculinity. And they simply withdraw from any sphere which becomes identified with women.
Because girls' success is now such a regular feature of the league table carnival, disadvantaged boys identify school failure with being macho and worthwhile. So more give up or drop out.
It is not good for either sex to be placed at a disadvantage by the other. The aim must be to make opportunity as fair as possible. But that cannot be done by confusing equality of opportunity with identical experience, the fundamental error of our age.
Boys and girls are different. It would be far better if they were educated in single-sex schools. Neither sex is well served by co-education. Neither sex benefits from coercion by the educational gender police.
Many girls resent the pressure to do science subjects. Feminists fear that if girls don't study science in the same number as boys, they won't have the same career opportunities later on. But girls make different choices from boys because they have different impulses and interests and calculate their life prospects very differently.
This is not an argument against girls studying engineering, or women becoming train drivers or particle physicists. It is rather that the system has become unfair and discriminatory against boys - the outcome of a philosophy that, despite its feminist credentials, does not allow girls the freedom to make their own choices, for fear that the dogma of unisex behaviour will be exposed once and for all as a big lie.
In conclusion, I would suggest that this superficial levelling of the Mathematics `playing field` has long been considered one of the goals in the endless march towards that miserable, androgynous Utopia so longed for by the Friedens, Sontags, and Gurley Browns. I would also suggest that in reality, the Exam Results are in many cases more to do with politically motivated marking and preferential treatment, rather than any increase in the aptitude of girls in the field of Calculus, Geometry et al.
Ref: All Must Have Prizes by Melanie Phillips
This is an excellent piece. Maybe we should post it on the main board where more might see it?
I was always a maths hero at school, then went on to study computing. The best mathematician I ever met was actually female, she gained a first class degree.. She was also very pretty. My wife objected to my relationship with her (which was based on playing chess more than anything else!).. So I lost touch with her.
I always thought the main area of male expertise was actually physics, you dont see many women in that line of work or academically and I always thought that it was the final bastion of boys being better than girls academically..
I did extremely well in both subjects at school as long as I did not have to do any homework and it was all based on exams..
I was top of the class, and since I went to a posh boys school, this was top of a class of elite chappies, of course..
I did not do my homework in any subject, I dont think it is correct to expect kids to do homework.
It is very easy to cheat, and females have an advantage in being able to get help externally.
I know several females who have good degrees because I did their courseworks for them, in exchange fro what talents they could find that I could avail myself of..
I also know of many men who passed their computing courseworks at university because I used to do two versions of my programs, one for folk who wanted to copy it, worth an A grade and anything version that I would hand in to get my grade A+..
Academic qualifications dont mean much in the world anymore, and they are getting to be a joke..
"its not what you know, its who you know" was never more true..