Bias Against Boys in Education

    Posted on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    Posted by Mike McPartlin on May 20, 2016 9:30:00 AM

    Are Boys Discriminated Against in our Education System?

    By Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy


    More and more boys are being left behind

    Previously, I wrote a blog discussing how the US public education system is biased against boys. Originally titled Boys will be Boys, the article opened by citing the incredible statistic that in the US today some 60% of college graduates are female.

    My conclusion was that there was a significant problem, and that we will be much better off as a society if our schools will get back to letting boys be boys.

    This week I dug a little deeper and after reading through a number of articles and studies, I came away somewhat alarmed. More and more boys are being “left behind” academically, and therefore more and more males are at risk of falling behind socially and career-wise as well.

    Most concerning is the boys’ declining literacy, because at the younger ages they generally lag behind girls from a reading and writing perspective to begin with.

    And this phenomenon is not limited to the US, but is occurring in Canada, Australia and the UK as well. The only difference is that those other countries have been attempting to address the bias-against-boys-in-schools problem for a number of years already. Not so much the US however.

    The Gap in Academic Performance is Growing

    And this educational “gender gap” is growing even wider. In fact, girls continue to perform so much better than boys academically that many experts are taking note and calling for changes.

    So what is the reason for this widening academic gap between girls and boys, and how can it be corrected?

    Academics at Bridgedale Sports AcademyEfforts to correct bias against girls has hurt boys 

    During the 1990s, in response to an organized political movement to address a perceived bias against girls in US education, laws and regulations (particularly at the federal level) were written to correct what were believed to be profound injustices. 

    Suffice it to say that at least a few of these well-intentioned measures had the unintended consequence of working against the boys. (Christina Hoff Sommers has written extensively on these topics, including her best seller, The War Against Boys. Dr. Sommers offers some interesting insights in How to Make School Better for Boys.)

    Bias against girls existed but was not what they thought it to be 

    Ironically, by the late 1990s subsequent studies had proven that much of the claimed bias against girls had been overstated. In fact, many of the earlier claims had been altogether wrong.

    What they found instead was that girls had already established their dominance over boys academically. 

    And they found that the trend was getting worse, with boys falling even further behind, with many males ultimately just rejecting school completely.

    The reasons most often cited for the dismal performance of male students in a typical school environment at the younger ages are:

    • Boys are usually less mature than girls, physiologically, mentally and emotionally
    • As a result, boys generally lag behind girls from a cognitive skills perspective
    • Boys also lag behind girls from a fine-motor skills perspective
    • Boys are intimidated by girls who are more mature and better students
    • Boys can’t sit still for very long and need to be active
    • Boys need positive male role models but most elementary teachers are female
    • Schools today tend to emphasize subjects girls like but boys dislike
    • And so while most girls “love” school, far too many boys hate it

    Same-Sex Schools are the Answer for Many

    Recently, there has been a movement back to same-sex education environments and, as a rule, students at these schools have vastly improved their academic achievement. (For example, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, an all-male 6-12 public magnet school in Dallas, TX opened in 2011 and has produced impressive results.)

    All boys classroom at Bridgedale Sports Academy


    The reasons most often cited for the improved performance of male students in an all-male school environment are:

    • The curriculum is tailored to the boys’ needs, e.g. more hands-on activities
    • The teaching approach is tailored to the boys’ needs
    • To get to the hands-on subjects they do like, boys will do the reading and writing work they otherwise might not like to do
    • The boys are able to be more physically active
    • The boys are more comfortable and better able to focus in such an environment
    • Discipline is more easily maintained, especially if there are more male teachers


    In one respect, boys are very much like girls when it comes to education: they all want to learn. That is simply part and parcel of being human. And so when boys learn and are able to understand something today that they couldn’t understand yesterday, it feeds their desire to learn even more. It feeds their soul. 

    Unless and until schools are willing to address the widening achievement gap between girls and boys, it will continue to be a serious problem. And it’s bad not only for the boys who are left behind, but also for the US as a nation. Because until the problem is corrected, fewer and fewer US males will be get the type of education needed to compete in today’s ever more competitive society.

    And so the challenge is creating an academic environment where boys too can learn, where boys too “love” to go to school.

    Therein lies the solution.


    "At Bridgedale we are committed to the development of our young student-athletes, helping them to develop their physical and mental skills so they can perform at their best when it matters most, no matter the arena of life that challenges them. If you would like to learn more about Bridgedale Academy, please click the button below so we can schedule a time to chat."
                                                                                                               Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy


    To learn more about Bridgedale Academy, please click the button below so we can schedule a time to chat.


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    Bridgedale Academy is an all-boys school for athletes, a prep school for serious youth golfers and hockey players, offering grades 5 through 8 each school year. In addition to our winning combination of sports and academics, we focus on leadership training. We use a classical academic curriculum and our graduates go on to attend some of the most prestigious high schools in the country, including Lake Forest Academy, Culver Military Academy, Shattuck St. Mary’s, Northwood School, Benet Academy, Fenwick Prep, St. Ignatius Prep, Marmion Academy, Latin School and Providence Catholic. We pride ourselves on being the top youth hockey prep school in the nation and look forward to the same success in golf as we begin admitting golf athletes during the 2019-20 school year. Our hockey successes are many: Eighteen (18) of our former or current students have already received their NCAA Division 1 college hockey commitments, with many more sure to follow soon. Three (3) of our graduates competed for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Two (2) now compete for the University of Notre Dame. One just signed his entry-level contract with the NHL New York Islanders. Several Bridgedale grads are now playing junior hockey, including in the USHL, the OHL and the NAHL.
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