Richard Whitmire has been worried about the fate of boys in the classroom for some time now. He points primarily to lackluster overall high school graduation and college-going rates for boys, which are far lower than for girls. But as Hanna Rosin observes in her review of Whitmire’s Why Boys Fail, there’s a gender divide in New York City’s overwhelmingly female elementary gifted classrooms, too. Male toddlers are disadvantaged by an entrance exam and interview process that favors language, communication, and patience. Not only do boys develop linguistically later than girls, but they are much less able to sit through a cognitive test in the first place—at least until adolescence. To wit, New York’s gifted high schools have more boys enrolled than girls; indeed, she observes, overall achievement gaps between boys and girls shrink as students get older, though not completely. Boys are still less likely to graduate from high school or go to college than girls. Which leaves Rosin gloomy: “Men not achieving in school means men not going to college means men with no job prospects means men rejected as suitable marriage prospects by smarty-pants girls.” Turns out underachieving boys could spawn a population problem, too.
“The Genius Gap,” by Hanna Rosin, New York Magazine, June 4, 2010