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How Girls Are Affected by the Anti-Boy Bias in Grading

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Bill & Julie Draves

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How Girls Are Affected by the Anti-Boy Bias in Grading

Girls do not benefit from the anti-boy gender bias in grading in school and college. Here are five ways in which girls are negatively affected by the anti-boy bias in grading.

1. Girls are not learning more.

Even though girls are given most of the A's, good grades, and seats in college, they still are not learning more than the boys, according to test scores. 

Actually, boys achieve academically, and perform academically, at the same level as girls. Test scores for boys and girls are roughly the same, indicating girls and boys achieve about the same.  Grades do not reflect academic achievement for 53% of girls and 56% of boys.  If girls were really achieving more than boys, their test scores would be considerably higher than boys.

When we start to treat boys and girls differently in the classroom, girls will benefit just as much as the boys. We know girls learn differently than boys.  But based on test scores, it does not appear that schools are responding to how girls learn anymore than they are responding to how boys learn.

2. School bias doesn’t help girls in the workplace.

Some people falsely believe that if girls are given an advantage in school,  it will compensate for gender discrimination in the workplace. Actually, these two issues are totally separate and unrelated to each other.  Two wrongs simply won’t make a right.

The data.  First, even as the GPA gap between boys and girls has grown wider in the last twenty years, many studies indicate that the pay gap in the work place remains stuck at around 73% of men’s pay for women. So hurting boys in school does not help girls in the work place. 

Second, if we look at the country that has closed the pay gap the most - - Sweden - - they do not attribute their success to hurting boys in school.  Instead, they report that maternity leave, mandated paternity leave, and requiring half of elected officials to be women are the three reasons why Sweden has had the most success in closing the pay gap.

3. Some girls are being misled.

Some 30% of girls are being given better grades than their test scores would justify, according to the analysis of date in  Gender and Fair Assessment by ETS researchers Warren Willingham and Nancy S. Cole.

So some girls are getting "A"s in English or Math not because they know English and Math, but because they are polite, neat and turn in their homework on time.  They're being misled.

4. Family suffers as husband pool shrinks.

Every study shows a huge majority of girls want to marry someone who makes more money than they do. With 35% of the smart (high earning) boys taken off the job market, they are also off the marriage-market for educated young women.  Many girls want and deserve the option of raising a family before entering the workforce. With family-supporting men down 35%, this is not a good prospect for girls.

In case you are wondering about boys being responsible in the workplace, young men show up on time, turn their work in on time, and have just as good a job performance as young women in the workplace. Regardless of their level of education or drop-out status, boys are just as responsible in the workplace as girls.

5. Society needs engineers and scientists.
As reported by a study by Nancy S. Cole, when she was President of Educational Testing Service, test scores indicate that girls naturally score higher than boys in verbal tests, while boys naturally score higher than girls on technology tests. All other subject test scores are roughly equal.   Post-industrial societies like the United States need more scientists, computer specialists, engineers and other professionals in technology related areas.  When 2 million smart boys are missing from college each year, it means fewer students attending graduate school in the sciences. 

When society loses scientists, mathematicians, and sends 35% of its smartest male workers to WalMart and McDonalds, the economy and society suffers, along with it the girls. 
6. Girls deserve better schools too

A study cited at a British education conference reported that if students have to characterize school in one word, 85% of them will say "boring."  While more boys are dissatisfied than girls with school, recently the rate of dissatisfaction among girls is increasing even faster than that for boys.

What that means is that girls are growing increasingly dissatisfied with school too. When schools and colleges cease grading based on behavior, and concentrate on providing greater academic challenge and a focus on learning and knowledge achievement, girls as well as boys benefit.

What girls can do

Young women can help. You can write either your state superintendent of schools, or your college president, and encourage them to provide gender equity in grading for young men.
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