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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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WTV's Ryan Shapiro, Karina Grokhovskaya, and Sadie Johnson bring you a few last words

The problem of male academic underperformance

Juleanna Culilap
The data is clear: males are falling behind academically and something needs to be done to address this.

Early in the 19th century, very few girls had access to and received education. Those who had the option attended dame schools, which focused mainly on literacy. In the same period, boys’ education was focused on the classics. A boy would learn how to read and write, do mathematics, learn Greek, and learn Latin. It was also common for boys to learn logic, history, and geography. The first institution of higher education in the United States was Harvard, in 1636. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to attend university. 

This gender gap in education has long been discussed, but developed countries have witnessed a new worrying trend in the disparity between males and females. Males are falling behind their female counterparts in various academic fields and something needs to be done.

Universities were previously a male-dominated environment. However, the gender proportions have been reversed. Women comprise nearly 60 percent of enrollment in universities and colleges while men only account for 40 percent

Women have also surpassed men in the number of bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees granted annually in the United States. 

This trend of males underperforming also applies to secondary and primary education. 

During their time in elementary school, boys are more likely than girls to repeat a grade or more. 66% of children who repeat kindergarten are boys

The disparity may be attributed to girls’ tendency to mature faster than boys, giving them an advantage in reading, writing, and speaking. Once boys begin school, they almost immediately start falling behind girls.

Boys are 4.5 times more likely than girls to be suspended or expelled because boys tend to be more active than girls. At a young age, boys often lack the ability to sit quietly and perform verbal exercises. Another reason boys are expelled more frequently is because they require more attention from the teachers and their peers. Since boys take longer to develop proper speaking skills, they are more likely to act out. The rebellious nature typically found in young boys is their method of compensating for not knowing how to communicate their needs calmly and effectively.  

Girls also outperform their male counterparts in secondary education. 

The National Bureau of Economic Research highlighted international patterns of gender disparities in high academic achievement. High school girls in the U.S. have an average letter grade of an A while boys have an average grade of a B. Because of their higher GPA, twice as many girls are in the top 10 percent of students. Twice as many boys are among those with the lowest grades. 

Girls tend to receive higher grades because they are more adept at staying productive. In class, girls pay attention follow instructions, and persist on long-term assignments despite boredom and frustration. 

It is also important to note that across the U.S., fewer boys are graduating. One in every five boys does not graduate high school on time compared to one in 10 girls. 

Young boys are more likely to drop out of school because of factors at home, at school, and in their communities. Oftentimes, boys are affected by the complex gender norms that are imposed on them during education. It is common for boys to be socialized into violent forms of masculinity and to be targeted for physical abuse. These factors cause a feeling of detachment from many young boys. The pressure to provide in a single-parent household, joining a gang, substance abuse, and severe corporal punishment may also interfere with education.

Girls perform better academically because they are more engaged in school. In part, this may be due to girls being raised in a way that aligns with what educators expect from all students. Girls are raised to be polite, respectful, and caring for their peers. They are less likely to disrupt class and more likely to complete their assignments on time and follow the teacher’s instructions.

There is a strong association between the educational disparities males face and major life challenges such as substance abuse, mental illness, and criminal behavior. All of these problems have ripple effects on American society. 

Despite these concerns for young boy’s future, very few developed countries have put in place system-wide policies or programs to address it. Among these interventions are finding relationships with students’ lives, recognizing their individual talents and needs, and developing peer groups, clubs, parenting programs, and teacher training.

Kids are raised with parental expectations, examples in media, and reinforcement from peers. Expectations that are put on young girls make them better suited for the classroom environment forcing young boys to fall behind. Boys falling behind in school creates major life challenges that affect society. Developing nations should improve their practices to ensure boys aren’t unintentionally marginalized or excluded in order to resolve these problems.

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About the Contributor
Juleanna Culilap
Juleanna Culilap, Graphics
Juleanna Culilap is a junior and this is her first year as a member of Wingspan. She serves as WTV's graphic artist. Other than Wingspan, Juleanna is involved in orchestra, NHS, and Culture & Cuisine Club, and her hobbies include sleeping, baking, and doing karaoke. Her go-to karaoke song is Never Say Never by Justin Bieber featuring Jaden Smith. Contact Juleanna: 

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