EduTopics

"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

As They Lag Behind Females in School, Men Experience Losses in Masculinity

As the young men referred to in the article Young Men in China Struggling to Catch Up in Class feel their masculinity is slipping away, they turn to the education system as a cause. With the burdens that education places on them, some men in China feel they have little time to devote to gender typical activities. It is the concern of some men that this lack of opportunity takes a toll on their academic performance.

A gender gap in academic performance in China is present and continuing to grow. As of 2010, girls in China outshined boys on entrance exams. Practices in the education system such as biased treatment of females by teachers and the absence of gender-promoting classes in school have been considered possible causes for the gender gap. Already taking this into consideration, one school in Shanghai has begun to offer classes where males can express their masculinity.

This is certainly one line of logic; faults in the education system, which subsequently lead men to feel they are missing out on masculine activities, lead to a gender gap in academic performance. However, we can look at this from a different perspective. Perhaps it is females’ outperformance of males that leads to these feelings of a declining sense of masculinity.

No matter where these feelings of loss in masculinity come from, the presence of these feelings and the gender gap in academic performance is an indication that China needs to reconsider its teaching practices. China may want to direct their attention to any differences in the way teachers treat male and female students and any differences in the effectiveness of educational practices on the individual sexes. In the end it is about making sure that males and females are both provided with the tools to succeed in school, and, in actuality, this might mean very different approaches in education for the two sexes.

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