This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 25, 2015

Girls Excelling in Schools

Though educators have been working hard for decades to reduce the gaps in performance, boys and girls continue to make gender-based career choices. According to a recent global report from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), those career decisions have been made much earlier than previously believed. That timing is important, because "early gender gaps drive career choices and employment opportunities".

Why girls excel
According to this study of 15 year olds in Reading, Mathematics, and Science, girls excel, in part because they read more and they spend more time doing homework. As we have previously reported, there appears to be an unfortunate tendency on the part of boys to live up to expectations of bad behavior. Once in the classroom, boys want to be elsewhere. They are twice as likely as girls to say that school is a 'waste of time', and turn up late more often.

In spite these attitudes and behaviors and the fact that boys spend more time playing video games and trawling the Internet, teachers and employers alike have higher expectations of boys than girls. These behaviors worked better for men, when there were unskilled jobs available for uneducated men. But with automation, those jobs are fast disappearing.

What teachers can do
The study also outlined that "teachers could do more to boost the performance of both boys and girls in math, a subject where boys do better in around half of participating countries". Asking students to explain how they solved a math problem, to apply what they have learned outside of the classroom, and work more independently, improves results across the board and particularly for girls.

What employers must do
Interestingly, employers also showed favoritism towards boys, perhaps because boys are more likely to get hands-on experience working as interns, visiting a job fair, or speaking to careers advisors outside of school. Employers need to do more to engage with girls to help them learn more about potential careers.

Moving into the future
It is now clear that girls' educational superiority continues after secondary school. Not long ago, men made up a clear majority in university populations almost everywhere, but particularly in advanced degree programs and in science and engineering. However, as higher education has expanded globally, the enrollment of women has increased almost twice as fast as that of men. In the OECD countries, women now make up 56 percent of students enrolled, up from 46 percent in 1985. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to 58 percent. Already in many colleges and universities throughout the United States, young women comprise 60 percent and more of student bodies.

The implications are clear: unless all stakeholders (parents, teachers, and employers) take decisive action to engage young men in ways that work, we will continue to see these trends increase. Already in the near term, we believe that women will lead the corporation of the future. The attitudes of girls towards education and numbers of them are undeniable. ###

Special thanks to The Economist Magazine and OECD for the information leading to these insights.

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