There is a short answer to this, which will follow here, but this question is such a big one, we suggest these books for even more assistance: The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers, Ph.D., Boys Adrift, by Leonard Sax, M.D., The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, Ph.D., and Saving Our Sons, by Dr. Michael Gurian. These books give in depth analysis of the cultural trends that have developed in the last fifty years which do still, in some ways, leave women behind, but in most ways, now, involve the systemic loss of males in our K – 12 and higher education systems.
What was true fifty years ago is only true now in certain pockets of the culture. As the question noted, young women are ahead of young men in nearly every discipline in college (with fields like mechanical engineering the exceptions). The illusion that males are succeeding and females failing in college grows mainly from the obvious success of a number of males at the very top of government and corporate life. Presidents, legislators, and CEOs are predominantly male: it is publicly assumed–and supported ideologically in many schools and colleges–that, therefore, males as a group are ahead of females as a group. As the books listed above have shown, for every alpha male who succeeds there are numerous males who do not.
A short list of things we must do to reshape college campuses are these:
- Ask the college administrators to disaggregate data by gender for the college. Once this is done, you will have access to grades, test scores, dropout rates, and matriculation rates by gender. In most colleges, this data will show greater female success and less male success. With this data in hand, you can begin to reshape the conversation on campus.
- Lead discussion groups that take on extreme ideologies on campus, including ideologies that attack males as constant micro-aggressors against females, and females as constant victims of males. One of the primary reasons males drop out of college is their feeling of being devalued and embattled on for no other tangible “sin” except that they are male.
- Fight for women’s rights openly and fairly. Where women are suffering privation, come to their aid; gender is not a zero sum cultural construct. If men help women, women are more likely to see through their negative stereotypes of males and come to understand the profound needs of males, as well.
- Carry on discussions of gender equality that include analysis of choice-making rather than just money. Most progressive gender equity conversations end before they begin because it is indisputable that, in the aggregate, males in America make more money than females. Choice is power, too, however, and women are now choosing to live lives they want to live. Some of those lives are not measurable by personal aggregate worth.
- In schools of Education and Psychology, advocate for classes in male/female brain difference. Tens of thousands of studies worldwide show significant differences between male and female brains. These differences do not compel traditional gender roles on the genders but they do influence child-raising, learning, counseling, coaching, mentoring, and every other field of child nurturance. However, our colleges rarely teach this material, thus, our teachers, coaches, mentors, government officials, journalists, and parents leave college without learning the science of children’s lives. Huge systemic mistakes ensue in a society built on ideology not science.
- Finally, form book study and advocacy groups that become empowered to lobby college administrators for a Male Studies department commensurate with existing Women’s Studies departments. These departments will be cross-disciplinary and can inform research in all fields, from education to engineering, psychology to business. With these departments and their classes providing leading edge research in male development and male/female dynamics across the gender spectrum, colleges will advance into the new millennium.