Is the Emerging Gender Gap in Education a Crisis?

by Taylor Kilgore, age 17

    At one time, it was said, girls go to college to earn their “Mrs. Degree.” Today it is more common to hear the phrase, “Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go to Jupiter…”
    And so it goes with young people. This represented a shift in attitudes toward women and among women. Success has gone from being a non-existent reality to a priority.
    Today, women are aiming for that successful career that was once the domain of men. Before the 1970’s, American women were mostly stay-at-home moms who served their husbands after their long days of work. Since then, roles have changed, and in some cases even flip-flopped completely. According to Pew Research center, two-thirds of 18 to 34-year-old women say being successful in a high-paying career is “one of the most important things” in their lives.
    This idea is evident in education and in the workplace.
    Education is the number one factor shaping today’s diverse workforce.  Hence, the confidence and ambitions today’s women display can be directly defined by their education. In fact, women have jumped ahead of men in education. More women are graduating from college with higher paying degrees.
    In 2007-2008, 52 percent of law students were women. Similarly, nearly 60 percent of bachelor degrees earned in 2009-2010 went to women, as did more then 60 percent of master’s degrees in the same period, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Women’s outnumber men at most college institutions. Today, 44 percent of undergraduates are on college campuses are men,  compared to 58 percent 30 years ago.
    Interestingly enough, this achievement gap isn’t only in college, but starts in elementary school. Thirty years ago it was girls, not boys, lagging behind in education. Currently, boys ages 5 to 12 are 60 percent more likely than girls to have repeated at least one grade, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
    Likewise, in middle school, eighth-grade girls score 21 percent higher than boys on standardized writing tests. The tendency to learn and succeed is just as common in high school-aged girls. Statistics show that high school girls are 36 percent more likely to take Advanced Placement or honors biology than high school boys.
    Women’s expectations are higher these days and many work as a high priority. Single, childless women 22 to 30 have a higher average income than male peers in most U.S cities, according to the research firm Reach Advisors.
    Women today want the whole package: a family and good paying career. This is a new generation of women, ready to strive and succeed.

[Sources: USA Today, Newsweek: The Boy Crisis]

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