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Does the school system benefit girls more than boys?
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Toxic masculinity

Boys are underperforming in school because of the types of behaviour society encourages them to exhibit, not through any flaw or design in the school system.


Parents, the media and the entertainment world instil a sense of toxic masculinity on boys that fosters behaviour that stymies academic performance.

The Argument

From a young age, boys are taught that they are supposed to be tough, strong and athletic. They are given loud, exciting toys to play with, while girls are given dolls to cuddle and nurture. The traits caregivers foster in children from a young age set them up for their societal gender roles. Boys are taught that they will be judged on their physical worth, while girls are taught that they will be judged on their caregiving and nurturing abilities. When these expectations are applied to the classroom, boys are set up to fail. Their peers do not value their academic performance as much as their physical skills. It becomes uncool to be a high academic performer and cool to be an athletic jock. The best illustration of the impact of societal expectations on academic performance comes in the form of an academic study among Asian-Americans undertaken by Queens College in New York. The study found that in Asian-American societies, where academic performance is valued above athletic performance, the gender academic gap does not emerge until much later.[1] In Asian-American communities, a gap in academic performance between boys and girls only emerged in the ninth grade. This was when outside pressures, like their peer groups at school, began to influence their gender identity. This is also supported by findings that show that the gender academic gap is less pronounced in schools that do not have a sports-focus. In these environments, boys are taught that men get their power from education and academic performance rather than physical prowess. This has a positive impact on their studies.

Counter arguments

The study cited does not prove that the academic system is not biased towards female students. In the study, the academic gap still appeared, it just appeared much later, in the ninth grade. This would suggest that it is the school system itself that is having an impact on the gender academic gap. Why were boys that were excelling in school until their teenage years then falling behind their female counterparts? Most likely, because the school system left them bored, stifled their competitive streaks and strangled them into conformity. When they wouldn't go along with it, they were punished, missing more school and falling further behind.



[P1] Society teaches boys that they will be judged on their physical, not their mental abilities. [P2] This sets them up for failure in the academic system.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Even in cases when boys aren't taught that their physical performance is more important than their mental performance, they still fall behind their female peers by ninth grade. This suggests it is the system, not society, that creates the gender academic gap.


This page was last edited on Friday, 27 Sep 2019 at 13:52 UTC

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