The NYT has discovered a shocking fact: boys and girls are different in key ways. After issuing the obligatory caveats about the “lingering sexism” afflicting the economy, David Leonhardt summarizes new research into the early sources of the achievement gap between men and women. On all sorts of key metrics, girls outperform boys:
By kindergarten, girls are substantially more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, more persistent, more flexible and more independent than boys, according to a new paper from Third Way, a Washington research group. The gap grows over the course of elementary school and feeds into academic gaps between the sexes. By eighth grade, 48 percent of girls receive a mix of A’s and B’s or better. Only 31 percent of boys do.And in an economy that rewards knowledge, the academic struggles of boys turn into economic struggles. Men’s wages are stagnating. Men are much more likely to be idle — neither working, looking for work nor caring for family — than they once were and much more likely to be idle than women […]“We know we’ve got a crisis, and the crisis is with boys,” said Elaine Kamarck, a resident scholar at Third Way and a former Clinton administration official. “We’re not quite sure why it’s happening.”
There are lots of complex factors that have contributed to the “boy crisis,” no doubt, but perhaps one of them is our destructive narrative about gender. The genders, we are now told, are essentially the same, and any apparent differences are explained away as being socially constructed. Occasionally, as with this article, we are allowed to deviate from that line to note ways in which women have special qualities that men lack. It’s certainly a heretical step in the right direction for the NYT to acknowledge that at least some gender differences are stubborn and significant. But never are men taught what special qualities they might have, what they can offer that women cannot, and how they can develop those habits and skills. A man today is arguably depicted as nothing but a woman without the ability to give birth. Is it any wonder that such an uninspiring vision makes them feckless and unproductive?