Friday, November 7, 2008

The Implications of Gender Gaps in Education

In a recent TCS Daily article Bill Costello marshals a significant amount of demographic data regarding differences between the genders and makes a compelling case that the gender gap in education is a dangerous trend. Here is his conclusion:
In short, the education gender gap that starts in kindergarten is leading to a nation of undereducated men who are contributing less and less to the economy and the family structure. This will adversely impact our nation's productivity, prosperity, and society.
It is a little difficult to get too excited about women out-performing men in education given the history of limited opportunity for women in this country. That said, if Costello is correct that this trend leads to the continued breakdown of the family structure, it is probably worth paying attention to.

Unfortunately, it seems that much of the difference between the performance of men and women in education is due to unequal virtue: women tend to work harder and are less likely to commit crimes or use illegal drugs. While it is possible that there are elements of our education institutions that favor women, it is not immediately obvious that this is so. As such I doubt that men have a good excuse for their poor performance.

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