Menstuff® has compiled the following information on how boys
are falling behind and have been for many years.
In gender wars, advocates for boys battle
In gender wars, advocates for boys
Eventually, society's focus on the plight of girls stirred a backlash from boys' advocates. Drawing little media attention at first, their arguments gained both statistical strength and often uneasy support in a culture where gender inequities have long made Americans defensive and edgy.
"We need to get beyond the gender wars," said Elena Silva, a research director at the American Association for University Women. "Wanting both boys and girls to succeed - we don't think that's a zero-sum game."
Many accuse Silva's group, however, of lighting the fuse by commissioning a landmark 1993 report: "How Schools Shortchange Girls." It triggered waves of teaching seminars and education grants to lift girls' spirits, grades and career goals in traditionally male fields.
By decade's end, the report came under fire for its use of data - overlooking girls' higher grades and college admissions while underreporting the struggles of many boys. The American Association for University Women also did not disclose poll results showing broad agreement among students of both genders who thought girls enjoyed better treatment by teachers.
"What was so bizarre," said Joe Manthey, who now leads school programs for boys in California, "is that it came out right at the time girls had overtaken boys in almost every area.
"It was phony ... and it was harmful."
American Association for University Women spokeswoman Jean-Marie Navetta said the harshest critics "seemed hell-bent on finding issues" but the research accurately reflected troubles for girls at the time, "though now we're seeing girls doing better and boys who are lagging."
The report helped raise awareness that "specific with each gender, there are issues we need to address ... I don't know of any harm in that fact," she said.
The rallying around girls swelled as the 1990s clicked on:
The Ms. Foundation for Women launched "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." More than 10 million parents invited girls to explore the career world, leaving sons to stew in class.
Psychologist Mary Pipher examined the dispirited teen girl in "Reviving Ophelia," a top-selling book that still serves as scripture for parents helping their daughters through the bumpy years of early adolescence.
Colleges and courts stepped up enforcement of Title IX, the 1972 federal initiative to combat gender bias in schools. Advocates credited the U.S. women's soccer victory in the 1999 World Cup to schools finally taking girls' sports seriously.
The self-esteem of our daughters, of course, needed attention and still does: As teens they attempt suicide more often than boys, although boys are almost five times more likely to complete the task.
When it came to school, however, critics over time lined up to argue that girls' struggles had been hyped by a leftist teaching establishment bent on quelling overactive boys.
Author and culture critic Christina Hoff Summers looked back at the American Association for University Women report and decreed it "The War Against Boys," a blistering book excerpted for the cover of Atlantic Monthly in 2001. If many girls felt neglected in class, Summers noted, they were more likely than boys to stick with the program - graduating at higher rates and joining more advanced placement courses. They earned lower grades than boys in physics but hardly any other course.
Today, Silva says, "Yes, boys are absolutely in trouble," along with girls.
Title IX faces its own battles. A coaches' group filed suit claiming the federal provisions discriminate against men, as universities feel compelled to cut wrestling and men's gymnastics.
As for "Take Our Daughters to Work," some groups dangled lawsuits in front of public employers for favoring girls. The Ms. Foundation changed the title three years ago to "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work."
Foundation president Sara K. Gould said her group has now placed boys on a front burner - in hopes they will become more compassionate men and less likely to assault women: "There needs to be a redefinition ... of what it means to be a man."
Such talk gets gender warriors on the other side loading their muskets.
"When girls were thought to be hurting in schools, the approach
was to change the schools," said boys advocate Manthey. "When it's
boys who are in trouble, people say, `Change the boy.'"
Source: Rick Montgomery, www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/13348609.htm
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