Research Brief: Boys Education

Compared to their female counterparts, boys and teenagers score worse across the board in literacy and writing, display significantly higher behavioral problems and are far more likely to drop out of high school and not attend university.

There is also a severe lack of male teachers, especially for early childhood education. Considering the rates of female led lone parent households, there is a strong need for positive male role models. 85 percent of elementary and kindergarten school teachers are female. Women make up 60 percent of secondary school teachers. 97 percent of early childhood educators are female in Canada. 56% of all university students are women. It is reported that 1 in 7 male teachers were falsely accused of inappropriate behavior and there was a lack of resources to protect the rights of teachers.

From the age of 1-4, boys are hospitalized at rates of 7800 per 100 000 compared to 5700 per 100 000 for girls. Between the ages of 1-3, 12 percent of boys are identified as having advanced motor and social development compared to 21 percent of girls. 16 percent of 4-11 year old boys showed aggressive behavior compared to 9 percent of girls and 14 percent of 4-11 year old boys displayed hyperactivity compared to 6 percent of girls the same age. By age 15, 20 percent of boys score in the top 25 percent in reading compared to 30 percent of girls in the top 25 percent. In 2010, 10 percent of young men and 6 percent of young women had dropped out of high school. Many young men report dropping out because they are not engaged in school and experienced low academic achievement. One in four dropouts have trouble maintaining steady employment. 88 percent of women graduate high school compared to 82 percent of men.

Across all developed countries, women graduate at greater rates than men yet there is a lack if concrete policy solutions to correct the issue. 40 percent of people with no high school degree experience low levels of employment and poverty. Girls on average receive substantially higher GPA averages in high school than boys. Research has shown that Canadian boys are 4 times more likely to be labeled with a social, emotional or behavioral issue. There is a strong gender gap in reading and writing ability. On average, high school aged girls scored 32 points higher on standardized English tests.

Masculinity norms such as a lack of impulse control, the need to earn income as fast as possible and a disregard for academics leads to poor reported attitudes about school. Boys take longer to read, read less and comprehend worse than girls and express negative attitudes towards reading across the board (significally more males identify themselves as ‘non readers’). Stereotypes of men as jocks, workers and a negative influence from peers and harmful substance use all contribute to male school failure. Girls are emphasized to seek help for school, display good manners and try hard while boys misbehavior and failure can be chalked up as ‘boys being boys’ ‘fitting in’ through destructive behavior and priority placed on athletic or economic labor achievement.

Further Reading: The Need for an Inclusive Quota System in Teachers’ Education and the Teaching Service in Manitoba and Across Canada