Why Men Are Falling Behind in Schools

Commentary, Culture Wars, Philip Carl Salzman

North American universities have been taken over by women. Men are decreasingly university students, professors, and administrators. “Gender equality,” a feminist war chant, apparently does not apply when females dominate.

In the United States, women outnumber men in colleges and universities — by 2026, the Department of Education estimates57 percent of college students will be women. In Canada, according to the “2001 Census, universities had clearly become the domain of women, as they made up 58% of all graduates. And according to the 2006 Census, women accounted for 60% of university graduates between the ages of 25 and 29.” Women also dominate in British universities. The same imbalance is seen in universities around the world.

On average, across all disciplines, there are substantially more females than males. But the imbalance is even more impressive in particular fields of study. In education, psychology, social work, and health, the predominance of females is between 75% and 80%. In English, foreign languages, communications, journalism, and art, and also in biology, females comprise between 60% and 75% of the students. Males predominate only in math, physical sciences, engineering, and computer science. Some 60% of Ph.Ds in sociology, anthropology, and linguistics were awarded to females.

[Why Are So Many Campus Feminists Anti-Male?]

However, the predominance of women in the social sciences is much greater in undergraduate students than among Ph.Ds. In the anthropology classes I taught during the last decade, there was usually a sprinkling of males among the large majority of females. But by 2017 my senior seminar on immigration and culture was populated by 18 female students and zero males.

Behind the Numbers

According to Statistics Canada (StatsCan) researchers, many of the differences in school performance between boys and girls can be attributed to fundamental differences between girls and boys: “From birth, it would seem that boys generally face more challenges than girls. For example, …boys are also more likely to be categorized as having activity limitations (15%) than girls (11%).

“Boys also lag behind girls on the developmental side of things in the early years. For example, from birth to three years, only 12% of boys are categorized as having advanced motor and social development, compared with 21% of girls. On average, five-year-old boys score 97.2 on a test of copying and symbol use compared with 104.3 for girls. Some 78 % of five-year-old boys often display independence in dressing compared with 87% of girls.

Finally, boys have more behavioral problems than girls in the early years. For example, five-year-old boys display less attention (a score of 8.5) than girls (a score of 9.3). Some 16 % of 4 to 11-year-old boys display aggressive behavior compared with only 9% of girls and 14% of 4 to 11-year-old boys display hyperactivity compared with only 6% of girls.”

According to Statistics Canada, the differences in gender show up markedly in differences in school participation:

“By age 15, boys and girls have very different characteristics. On the academic stage, boys trail behind girls on several fronts. For example, boys have weaker performances on standardized reading tests. While 20.4% of boys score in the top 25% of the reading distribution, 30.1% of girls do so. In contrast, 30.3% of boys score in the bottom 25%, compared to 19.5% of girls. There is an equally large gender divide in terms of overall school marks.”

[Report: 74% of All Colleges Don’t Uphold Due Process for Accused Students]

Finally, the StatsCan researchers conclude that differences in motivation between girls and boys lead to differences in school achievement: “a very large proportion of the gender gap in university participation relates to non-cognitive abilities displayed at school, an important element of which relates to motivation to work hard in school and to seek to achieve high overall marks.”

“You’ve Already Lost Them”

According to Jon Marcus in the Atlantic, “The problem has its origins as early as primary school, only to be fueled later on by economic forces that discourage men from believing a degree is worth the time and money.” The head of a middle school claims the recruitment efforts of colleges and universities are futile: “by the time [male] students reach college age, Maloney said, “It’s way too late. You’ve already lost them.” “Or even earlier than that. The “anti-school, anti-education sentiment” in boys has roots in kindergarten when they’re slower to learn to read than girls, said Jim Shelley, the manager of the Men’s Resource Center at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. … That disparity continues until, “by eighth or ninth grade, boys have lost interest,” Shelley said.”

Jerlando Jackson, the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, “thinks there’s a surprising racial component. There’s not much work being done to encourage boys to go to college, he said, because not all of those boys are from racial and ethnic minorities society regards as disadvantaged. A lot of them are white. “It’s a tough discussion to have and a hard pill to swallow when you have to start the conversation with, ‘White males are not doing as well as one might historically think. We’re uncomfortable as a nation having a discussion that includes white males as a part of a group that is having limited success.’”

Jim Shelley, the manager of the Men’s Resource Center at Lakeland Community College in Ohio, has run one of the few campus support centers exclusively for men. “Not only are there not programs like ours [at most colleges and universities] that are supportive of male students but at most college campuses the attitude is that men are the problem. … I’ve had male students tell me that their first week in college they were made to feel like potential rapists.”

Female dominance in higher education is in fact quite new. For centuries, males were the majority, and many institutions were exclusively male. According to The Atlantic, “Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women—58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s—the ratio has now almost exactly reversed.” Presumably, it is not the nature of girls and boys that has changed. Rather, it is the social context that has changed. Where once we said that girls were not as capable as boys, we now say that boys are not as capable as girls. As feminists insist: gender is socially constructed.

[Bow Down to Diversity or Risk Your Academic Career]

Males Are in Crisis

According to the middle school head Maloney, “There’s a lot of attention on empowering girls. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but males are the ones in crisis in education.” In fact, I think we should say that empowering girls is an extremely constructive effort. Clearly, in the past 50 years, by empowering girls, we have freed the intelligence and creativity of half of our population. This is a net benefit for all individuals and for society at large.

Unfortunately, at the same time, we have vilified boys (and men) and increasingly blocked their development. Feminists have championed females, and seen males as negative, when not evil. How have feminist faculties of education formed their teachers? Do feminist teachings favor girls over boys? Are school programs designed in the interests of both boys and girls, or in the interests of girls? It is probably not an exaggeration to say that girls are more docile and obedient than boys, who are more raucous and active. Is the standard of a good student in schools designed to favor girls? Is the only “good male student” the one who acts like a girl?

We know that feminists oppose addressing problems of boys in schools. “Britain’s education system is failing to tackle the “astonishing” underperformance of boys as feminists have made the topic ‘taboo,’ the former head of the university admissions service has warned. Mary Curnock Cook, who was chief executive of Ucas [The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service] until last year, said the fact that boys are falling behind in education is a national scandal – yet it is such an ‘unfashionable’ topic to discuss that it has become ‘normalized.’”

On campuses, feminists oppose men’s groups and men’s services. For example, “Fourth-year politics and governance student Kevin Arriola launched a new Ryerson Men’s Issues Awareness Society on Reddit last month and tried to get it certified by the Ryerson Students’ Union. The Ryerson Feminist Collective was quick to condemn the group, saying it ‘unequivocally denounces any organization that makes students feel unsafe.’” [emphasis added]

“The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) rejected a men’s issues group for official status because it was afraid the group would become a campus haven for misogyny and radical anti-feminism. … Arriola’s group did not have enough guarantees in its constitution to prevent it from turning into a violent men’s rights activism (MRA) group, according to a document handed out at the meeting.” [emphasis added]

Feminists Work to Disadvantage Males

Men are equally left out in Britain. James Knight was the only candidate to [send] his name forward to be men’s officer at the University of the West of England, and said he wanted to highlight male mental health issues. However, the National Union of Students officers began a campaign against the role, and he pulled out after claiming he [was] harassed. The university said the post was suspended pending review.”

The shift from male to female dominance in education, which correlates with the modern feminist movement, is not only demographic but also ideological. Feminists have not only advocated benefitting females but have also actively worked to disadvantage males, as the examples above illustrate. Men are deemed unruly, dangerous, and “toxic” by feminists, who feel “unsafe” around males.

The loss of interest in education by males in the West is at least in part due to being discouraged and demeaned by feminist teachers and administrators. Designing education to engage both boys and girls is not seen by feminists as desirable. Thus, given the feminist disregard of the rights and interests of the “other” male half of the population, it is clear that it is feminism that is “toxic.”

This article was originally published on Minding the Campus.