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Girl Power

Girls outperform boys academically in school. Can you shout it out to everyone who does not know it?

YES, there is well substantiated research that girls outscore boys on standardized test as early as elementary school. Since the late 1970s, women have begun to account for more than half of the college student population. It was easy to answer your question quoting published documentation. But if girls are recognized as out-performing boys in the classroom, why is there still a gender gap when they grow older?

The figures speak for themselves, young women are taking more honors classes, getting better grades, and receiving a higher grade point average than their male peers. A report released by College Board last year studied SAT test scores of college-bound students and found that girls are faring much better in high school than boys. It revealed that 60% of A+ students and 61% of A students were girls, with girls out performing boys in all academic subjects. Down the grading scale, 63% of boys earned grade D and below, compared to girls. The average GPA in 2016 was 3.45 for girls and 3.30 for boys.

More girls are attending college and achieving master’s and doctoral degrees than boys and this is starting to generate a gender inequality that could escalate. Some attribute this divide to an education system that is structured to favor girls.

Girls tend to me more attentive, organized, and better performing socially and, as we have seen, academically. There has been a shift to earlier learning and assessment which puts boys at a disadvantage. They are not programmed that way from a physical and psychological aspect, so the resultant attention deficit shadows them through school. The gap is evident by 8th grade where almost half of the girls achieve A or B grades compared with only 31% of boys. Statistically boys are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, according to the U.S. Department of Education they account for 71% of all suspensions.

Then, the underlying causes of the gender gap begin to manifest themselves. It is not all plain sailing for girls, as many experience a confidence and self-esteem crisis in early adolescence. Insecurity can escalate and intensify as they get older, only 40% of girls describe themselves as being overly confident according to the Commonwealth Fund.

A survey by American Association of University Women concluded that our culture and educational system inadvertently discourages girls from developing interests in academic pursuits, specifically in STEM fields. These studies almost directly lead to higher-paying employment after college. The report went on to disclose that from kindergarten through grade twelve the education of girls was inferior to that of boys. Girls spent less time in computer and science labs, received less attention from teachers and suffered gender bias on school tests.

Parents can take some steps to balance this gender inequality and broaden the life opportunities for their daughters. Providing equal access and opportunity to use computers and technology, swapping general domestic roles between mom and dad, and assigning household chores equally between boys and girls can all help reduce the gender imbalance.

Both sons and daughters need encouragement to pursue their individual interests and care should be taken to avoid pushing young adults down stereotypical paths.

“Well-behaved women seldom make history,” — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.