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Topic: Gender Gap - Girls the Beneficiaries?
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,353
Registered: 12/3/04
Gender Gap - Girls the Beneficiaries?
Posted: Jan 7, 1999 1:04 PM
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-------------------------------------------------------
[Note: Below are the abstracts of an article and a letter-to-the-editor
response
in the Wall Street Journal, on the topic "Girls are beneficiaries of the
gender
gap." Following the absracts are the full texts of the two.]
--------------------------------------------------------
Wall Street Journal, New York; December 17, 1998; p. A22

Girls Are Beneficiaries of Gender Gap

By Diane Ravitch

Abstract:

The schools, we were told, were heedlessly crushing girls' self-esteem
while teachers (70% of them female) were showering attention on boys. Worst
among their faults, according to the report, was that the schools
discouraged girls from taking the math and science courses that they would
need to compete in the future. The report unleashed a plethora of
gender-equity programs in the schools and a flood of books and articles
about the maltreatment of girls in classrooms and textbooks.

Now the U.S. Department of Education has released a report on high school
transcripts that demolishes the AAUW's claim that girls were not taking as
many courses in mathematics and science as boys. This new report shows that
in both 1990 and 1994, female high school graduates had higher enrollments
than boys in first- and second-year algebra and in geometry; among the
graduates of 1994, there were essentially no differences between boys and
girls in their participation in precalculus, trigonometry, statistics and
advanced placement calculus.

In science courses, the picture was much the same. Female graduates in both
1990 and 1994 had higher enrollments than boys in both biology and
chemistry; the only course that had a higher male enrollment was physics,
studied by 27% of the boys but only 22% of the girls. In every other
science course, the differences between boys and girls were slight or
favored girls. Overall, girls are much better prepared by the schools than
are boys: The latest figures show that 43% of female graduates were taking
a rigorous college-preparatory program in 1994, compared with only 35% of
boys.

-----------------------

Letters to the Editor:

Wall Street Journal; New York; December 28, 1998; p. A15

Our Report Applauds Girls' Gains in School

Abstract:

Diane Ravitch clearly has no idea what the American Association of
University Women Educational Foundation does or what our research says
("Girls Are Beneficiaries of Gender Gap," editorial page, Dec. 17). In
criticizing our highly respected 1992 report "How Schools Shortchange
Girls," which was based on more than 1,300 studies, Ms. Ravitch focuses on
current figures, which show girls improving in math and science, to
critique 1992 findings that documented and substantiated previous
inequities.

********************************************************
********************************************************

Wall Street Journal, New York; December 17, 1998; p. A22

Girls Are Beneficiaries of Gender Gap

By Diane Ravitch

FULL TEXT;

Some of us grew up with the image of reporters as tough-minded skeptics.
Yet there were no tough-minded reporters in sight in 1992, when the
American Association of University Women released its report "How Schools
Shortchange Girls." Every newsmagazine, newspaper and network television
program did a major story on it, without making any attempt to examine the
underlying evidence for the AAUW's charge that the schools were harming
girls.

The schools, we were told, were heedlessly crushing girls' self-esteem
while teachers (70% of them female) were showering attention on boys. Worst
among their faults, according to the report, was that the schools
discouraged girls from taking the math and science courses that they would
need to compete in the future. The report unleashed a plethora of
gender-equity programs in the schools and a flood of books and articles
about the maltreatment of girls in classrooms and textbooks.

Now the U.S. Department of Education has released a report on high school
transcripts that demolishes the AAUW's claim that girls were not taking as
many courses in mathematics and science as boys. This new report shows that
in both 1990 and 1994, female high school graduates had higher enrollments
than boys in first- and second-year algebra and in geometry; among the
graduates of 1994, there were essentially no differences between boys and
girls in their participation in precalculus, trigonometry, statistics and
advanced placement calculus.

In science courses, the picture was much the same. Female graduates in both
1990 and 1994 had higher enrollments than boys in both biology and
chemistry; the only course that had a higher male enrollment was physics,
studied by 27% of the boys but only 22% of the girls. In every other
science course, the differences between boys and girls were slight or
favored girls. Overall, girls are much better prepared by the schools than
are boys: The latest figures show that 43% of female graduates were taking
a rigorous college-preparatory program in 1994, compared with only 35% of
boys.

To make matters worse for the AAUW, all of its other charges have been
definitively refuted in a careful review of the research by Judith
Kleinfeld of the University of Alaska. Prof. Kleinfeld found, for example,
that there is little evidence that girls have lower self-esteem than boys
or that boys get more attention in the classroom than girls.

Far from shortchanging girls, the schools have been the leading edge in
creating gender equity in the past generation. Girls get better grades than
boys; have higher scores in reading and writing; are more likely than boys
to take advanced placement examinations; and are likelier to go to college.
In 1970, women were only 41% of all college students. Today, female
students receive 55% of all bachelor's degrees and 55% of all master's
degrees. Indeed, many university campuses have begun to worry about gender
imbalance, since men are a decided minority on virtually every campus.

Men still get a majority of professional degrees, but even here the numbers
are changing fast. In 1970, women earned only 8% of medical degrees; by
1995, that number had increased to 39%. In 1970, women received only 5% of
law degrees; in 1995, 43%.

At the same time that the AAUW ginned up a nonexistent crisis about girls,
the press totally ignored the data on boys. In school, boys are 50% more
likely to repeat a grade than girls and represent more than two-thirds of
the children placed in special education with physical, social and
emotional problems. Boys are far more likely to be given Ritalin for
attention deficit disorder. And talk about a crisis in self-esteem: young
men (ages 15 to 24) are five times more likely to commit suicide than young
women.

The shameful aspect of the AAUW's phony crisis -- and of the media's
gullibility in turning it into
conventional wisdom -- is that it diverted attention from the large and
genuine gaps in American education, which are not between boys and girls,
but among racial groups. African-Americans and Hispanics are far behind
their white peers on every measure of school achievement. On the tests
administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, average
black and Hispanic 17-year-olds score at the same level as average white
13-year-olds. African-American boys, in particular, are at high risk of
dropping out without graduating high school; among black college students,
nearly two-thirds are female.

Alarmist rhetoric about the schools solves no problem, especially when the
problem itself was invented for use in national advertisements and direct
mail campaigns as a fund-raising tactic. One can only dream about what
might have happened if the AAUW had focused the same amount of energy on
recruiting talented women to teach in schools where minority kids are
concentrated or on sponsoring charter schools for needy children.
------------------------
Ms. Ravitch is a research professor of education at New York University and
senior fellow at the
Brookings Institution.
*************************************

Letters to the Editor:

Wall Street Journal; New York; December 28, 1998; p. A15

Our Report Applauds Girls' Gains in School

FULL TEXT:

Diane Ravitch clearly has no idea what the American Association of
University Women Educational
Foundation does or what our research says ("Girls Are Beneficiaries of
Gender Gap," editorial page, Dec. 17). In criticizing our highly respected
1992 report "How Schools Shortchange Girls," which was based on more than
1,300 studies, Ms. Ravitch focuses on current figures, which show girls
improving in math and science, to critique 1992 findings that documented
and substantiated previous inequities.

Ms. Ravitch ignores our latest report, "Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still
Fail Our Children," which was based on more than 1,000 research studies.
The report fully acknowledges and applauds the gains girls have made in
math and science since we first brought attention to the very real issue in
1992. The report also identifies the fact that boys have not made progress
in many areas. Most importantly, "Gender Gaps" calls on educators to close
gaps among all groups of students -- boys and girls; African-American,
Hispanic and Asian; wealthy and lower income.

Finally, Ms. Ravitch has the audacity to criticize the AAUW for not
focusing our energy on "recruiting talented women to teaching schools where
minority kids are concentrated. . . ." Do your research, Diane. The AAUW
Educational Foundation awards fellowships to teachers, particularly those
working with "at risk" students, to create programs that engage them in
learning. We fund scholarships, mentoring programs, computer camps, teen
summits -- the list goes on. Instead of trashing us, Ms. Ravitch should
join us in ensuring that every child is given the opportunity to succeed.
Reducing the problems of our children into this petty who-is-worse-off,
boys-against-girls war gets us all nowhere.

Janice Weinman
Executive Director
American Association of University Women
Washington, D.C.
*********************************************************
*
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu





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