Having further thought about the topic of boys and schools, I’ve decided to break this subject into more parts than originally planned. Each part should be interesting in its own right, and the overall discussion will be easier to comprehend and more interesting.
I didn’t really understand the issue of boys and schools until I began analyzing feminism from a military perspective. Sounds weird, but it led to a fascinating discovery. This comes in subsequent posts. Anyhow, in the process I came across two incredible books by Christina Hoff Sommers, Ph.D.
Hoff Sommers is a mother of two boys. She is a bit of an intellectual “mama bear” in protecting her boys (and everyone else) from feminism. The first book was Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. (A must read for anyone who embraces or despises feminism.) The 2nd book – the mama bear one – was The War Against Boys – How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. It’s this 2nd book that I’ll focus on for the moment.
Hoff Sommers cites some important facts regarding intelligence and gender:
Nancy Cole, president of the Educational Testing Service, terms it the “spread” phenomenon. On almost any intelligence or achievement test, male scores are more spread out than female scores at the extremes of ability and disability: there are more male prodigies at the high-end and more males of marginal ability at the low-end. Or, as the political scientist James Q. Wilson once put it, “There are more male geniuses and more male idiots.”
To illustrate this concept – a picture’s worth a thousand words, after all -, here are the results of one major study on the topic:
We see that the girl’s curve is taller and narrower. Thus, in general girls tend to be closer to average (pink) in IQ scores than boys. The boy’s curve is shorter and wider. Thus, in general boys tend to be farther from average (pink) in IQ score than girls. Just like Hoff Sommers has informed us: there are more male geniuses (farther to the right of average) and more male idiots (farther to the left of average) than we find with females.
This is 100% pure statistics, and 0% gender politics. The sky is blue; the clouds are white. It is what it is, and nothing more.
Now pretend that you are a school district superintendent. You are responsible for a bunch of schools, and the education of all the district’s girls and boys. You know about gender and intelligence, so what do you expect to see in the overall results from your schools? One thing is that you might expect there to be more boys who excel academically than girls. (Let’s ignore possible other factors, such as work ethic differences).
That is, if our school system was working equally well for both genders, we would expect more boys than girls on the honour rolls, and perhaps more male high school graduates going off to university.
If we further consider the region to the left of the green line, since there are more male anti-geniuses, we might even expect more boys than girls to drop out of school at the higher grades, maybe in high school Grade 11 or 12. If this was actually happening to any significant degree, it would have the effect of shifting the remaining boys’ average intelligence to the right (or to a higher average) when compared to girls’.
Thus, we might expect more boys than girls amongst top students to be slightly even more pronounced. Not because boys are smarter than girls overall, because they are not. But because of the differences in how male and female intelligence scores are naturally distributed.
Yet according to our article from Part I, girls are absolutely creaming boys in school in terms of academic performance. I understand over 60% of students entering university are young women (which makes finding a good boyfriend tough, apparently). From our statistics, we would expect just the opposite of what is actually happening if our schools were working right. Therefore, there must be something wrong with our schools. They’re either grossly favouring girls, disadvantaging boys, or worst of all, both.
So what’s really going on? (to be continued …)
* * * A little more explanation on the graph for those interested * * *
I added the coloured lines in the image. If you go right, it means higher IQ scores. If you go left, it means lower IQ scores. For any given IQ score (i.e., left or right), how high the curve is above represents the percentage of boys or girls who score at that IQ level. Roughly, the higher the curve above a given IQ point, the more boys or girls will score there. Roughly again, the lower the curve above a given IQ point, the fewer boys or girls will score there.
The average IQ score for boys and girls is at the pink line. Average IQ, due to symmetry, occurs at each bell curve’s middle, which is also where its peak occurs. So, each peak happens at the average IQ score – it’s how bell curves work. Since the same vertical pink line hits both peaks, it means that both averages – boys’ and girls’ – must be the same. If the average intelligence scores for boys and girls were different, then these peaks (which occur at the IQ averages) would be offset from one another to the left or right, and then we would need two different pink lines. Or maybe a baby blue line one too instead.
To the right of the blue line is the “more male geniuses” region. The male curve is higher than the female curve in this region. The red double arrow highlights this difference (more male geniuses) at a single, arbitrary high IQ score. To the left of the green line is “more male anti-geniuses” (i.e., noticeably below average IQ scores). Once again, we find more boys than girls, as the male curve is higher than the female curve in this region too.
In contrast, we find more girls in the in-between region, as here the girls’ curve is higher. Girls’ intelligence scores tend to be closer to average than boys, so we find more girls here.