I was having lunch with a friend last week, a well-known and highly respected news commentator. He is extremely up to date (maybe ahead of the date) on what is happening in the world and has a very inquisitive mind. He asked me about my work with gender and toys and when I told him about the concern some women have over the lack of girls in the sciences he responded with this: “Society’s concern should not be with girls but with boys. Males are falling way behind in almost everything.”
He is of course correct when it comes to college. According to a USA Today Article by Mary Beth Marklein, women now dominate enrollment in and graduation from college with a split of 57% for women and 43% for men. Prior to 1991, men dominated in these areas so the shift is historically speaking a recent one.
I saw this as an American or western issue until I chanced upon an article in this week’s China Daily entitled: “'Bars should be lowered' for boys in exams.” According to that article, a high level Chinese politician has expressed grave concerns that “…male students are increasingly under-represented in the country's (China’s) leading schools and colleges, and are outperformed by female students in college entrance exams.” He sites the following statistics in making his case: “80% of China’s poor students are males; males students in Shanghai score on average 25 points lower than females on standardized tests and male representations in Shanghai’s top high schools is more than 10% lower than females.” His solution, have lower standards for boy then from girls.
As I considered all of this I began to think: Are girls smarter than boys? Are these number representatives of levels of intelligence? What does this mean for those of us who make products for girls and boys?
I will have done some research and will have some finding and thoughts on these questions in my next posting.