OT: Any other parents worried about young men struggling?

Submitted by chuck bass on February 26th, 2018 at 4:27 PM

Noticed my son's honor section at school was overwhelmingly girls. Poked around on google and learned gender achievement gap is a modern phenom - gen Y and Z girls take tougher advanced courses, higher GPAs, majority of top 10% of their graduating class, complete undergrad on time (boys taking 5 and 6 years, if they finish), 60/40 girls to boys earning bachelors, masters, professional degrees, and young women are dominating a lot of industries.

Gen y and z boys seem to glorify immaturity and slacking, e.g. Barstool. Video game addiction has gone mainstream, even popular boys are obsessed, e.g. Fortnite. Don't read for leisure. Lots of apathy, disengagement, aren't as focused on academics and career – don't seem to be adapting to the demands to succeed in modern hyper-competitive economy.

What is going on?


Newton Gimmick

February 27th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

I believe much of the disproportion of today's boys not doing well -- crime, addiction, suicide, general lack of purpose -- can be attributed to fatherlessness.  Divorce has really only been a mainstream option for 40-50 years, and is one of the indicators of developed countries (where boys are struggling most).

In other words, men need to be engaged in their sons' lives.  Though it's tough to know how to do that when their own dads may not have been around much.


February 28th, 2018 at 6:32 PM ^

One of my favorite quotes I've ever heard about America is that U.S.A. stands for The United States of Amnesia.

If you travel around the world, you will here the same thing from people almost anywhere, Americans are the friendliest, optimistic, happy-go-lucky people you can find (sometimes bested by the Irish)

But America's gift: innocence, creativity, innovation, it's also it's curse: naivete, ignorance, lack of complexity.

3,000,000 years ago hominids began using tools (the shoulder is a remarkable structure)

300,000 years ago human beings were anatomically the same as today (a lot more hair though!)

100,000 years ago human beings began herding and domesticating animals

20,000 years ago human beings began farming

4,000 years ago the first form of writing emerged (math first, then writing--believed to be a spandrel of being able to read animal tracks)

500 years ago the printing press was invented

100 years ago half of the US was illiterate (literacy is currently declining in the US)

50 years ago we went to space and the moon

Today, less than 2% of the American workforce is involved in farming (and it doesn't even begin to resemble what it did for the past 20,000 years)

Essentially 0% of people hunt/gather/forage for food

Only ~13% of the US workforce is even considered "blue collar", meaning some labor is involved, a vast majority of which does not include a) working with animals, or b) working in/with nature.

Human males are bigger, stronger, faster, think-quicker (less socially emotional, but make more social mistakes), track moving objects better (but see color worse), than females.

(and to the sociologists out there, all these characteristics show up by the 2nd month of infancy, it's not "learned", and it's cross-cultural)

Now I'm not an absolutist, or am I a biological determinist, but to ignore the thousands and millions of years of design etched into human beings is pure folly.

The human male is an F1-racecar optimized for the racetrack that is the natural world. Running, jumping, tracking, hunting, killing, fighting, defending, attacking, planning, building, constructing, repairing. But all of that is gone now. Mechanized.

And we're slowly leaving the natural world behind, for better or for worse--for worse in my opinion. Males are simply becoming obsolete.

That's why they play video games so much, it's a spatial, combatitive outlet.



February 26th, 2018 at 6:12 PM ^

Well if you actually dive into this discussion and WHY this would be happening you start running into terms like toxic masculinity and talking about hormone therapy and stuff. So on the Internet, yes, this topic could very easily devolve into politics. Also a lot of social issues bleed in with politics. That’s all I’m saying.


February 26th, 2018 at 6:52 PM ^

He also calls out Barstool as emblematic of this which is beyond a lazy take. Sure the content may seem sophomoric to some, but that doesn't indicate anything about the followers/fans -- Stoolies are 150% more likely than the average man to be making $100K+ and less than half as likely than the average man to be making less than $60K. Take that for data. So no, following Barstool does not mean your son has no ambition and will amount to nothing but funneling beers and eyeing co-eds.

Source: work in Digital Advertising


February 26th, 2018 at 9:06 PM ^

I'd love to see some numbers on that, since all the reports I've seen for the site's network is that the users are almost all mid-college students and recent graduates, and like many sites in that demographic don't age well with their core users, so it's not a "mature" product that tracks with age and increased income.  So it would be interesting to see where these high-income users come from.

Newton Gimmick

February 27th, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

This is not an issue that needs to be politicized.  It's a problem that needs solving.

Unfortunately, the lazy, petulant responses from the cultural right ("quit crying, man up") and the cultural left ("quit crying, men have all the power") turn this into a political divide.  (Even though they sadly agree on the "quit crying" part.)


February 26th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

Noticed this when I graduated HS in 2011. No excuses, but I think a lot of guys in HS dedicate more time to sports "to be cool" and have less time to do AP classes etc... Girls didn't seem to need to do sports to be "cool" like the guys. HS is a warped time where dumb things matter and many guys seem to put being strong and getting girls > college career plans.

I played/started for a perennial powerhouse football school in hs. Got in/went to Michigan, but I remember practicing 2 days a week (off season) at 545AM and weightlifting every day after school. Would get home around 430 and just be totally exhausted/unable to do a lot of HW vs someone who gets home at 230/330. In season, we'd have practice 330-6. My two-a-days prevented me from doing the 1-2 week prep course for AP Calc (that everyone else went to) and I subsequently got a shitty grade.

In college/law school I saw my grades really go up when I didn't have a ton of shit to do outside school compared to a lot of my peers who had better ACT scores/GPAs.


February 26th, 2018 at 4:49 PM ^

 I know things are different now than they were in the 80's.  And I didn't play football, which is a major time sink.  But I did play 3 varsity sports, march in the maching band, was in theater, quiz bowl, and on two academic games teams (yeah, we were a small school).  My point is, I had ZERO free time at any point in the school year and often didn't get home until 7 at night or later due to multiple stacked activities, plus usually I had one before school too..  And my grades didn't suffer for it, or I would have pulled out of some stuff.   I just had to study with the time I had. 

If playing one sport in high school is causing kids to suffer academically, there is something wrong. 

(And no, I didn't walk to school uphill in the snow, both ways! )


February 26th, 2018 at 5:00 PM ^

Just my opinion. I honestly just felt like sports + most people on sports teams not caring about school generally at all (well maybe to the point of getting a 22 on the ACT to get into WMU so they don't have to go to CC) leads to many guys into a trap where they do not care about school. (Waking up at 6AM and getting 8 hours of rest means going to bed at like 930-10PM). Factoring in dinner etc... theres not a lot of time do HW assignments each night especially for like 5-6 classes. The physical component also leads to being tired too.

IIRC my senior year I took

AP Calc; AP Physics; AP World History; and World Literature + blow off classes. If one class gave you 1 hr+ of hw your nights are just brutal. I'd honestly recommend going to HW assignments every other day or something to avoid burn out.

chuck bass

February 26th, 2018 at 7:26 PM ^

Great point about school be harder, and more to the point, degrees, specifically more marketable STEM degrees, leading to the highest paying modern professions, are really demanding. I wonder if parents haven't elevated expectations high enough for boys and many parents could be misled by inflated high school grades?
Grade inflation: 50% of all high school seniors have an A average GPA. A's are 3 times more common than they were in the 1960s. Maybe parents see A's and B's and think their boy is doing really well – but he's not in the toughest track (AP vs honors vs normal track), maybe he’s not at grade level on his standardized tests, then bombs the SAT, bombs or skips AP exams in May – things that tease out the boy may not be as prepared and disciplined as an inflated GPA suggests.


February 26th, 2018 at 7:30 PM ^

I worked for a major STEM company for 11 years and went on a few recruiting trips assisting the HR department.  Their HR people were surprisingly not focused on college GPAs, perhaps for this reason.  They were far more interested in internships and other side-projects that the kids had worked on.  Mind you, you still had to have a reasonably good GPA to get looked at, but once you were being looked at, they really were more interested in what you had done than your college test scores.   


February 26th, 2018 at 7:37 PM ^

We had AP Calc & Physics and all that stuff back in the 80's as well.  But I didn't often have huge piles of homework, unless I had to write a big paper for my English Lit. class.  Actually, we could have a big discussion about the value of dumping giant loads of homework on kids.  I've never been a fan of giant amounts of homework.  Either you understand a concept or you don't.  At some point with homework, If you understand the concept, you are wasting time doing busywork, and if you don't understand it, continuing to bang you head against it for another hour won't make you suddenly understand it.   Probably my favorite part of college was the general lack of homework and the concept of "your decision--study as long as you need".   Of course, this was NOT true for a few EE classes that sucked and had infinte amounts of impossible homework that sucked to high heaven, but that is my fault for being an EE.

One thing I did do in high school because I knew I was so loaded up with after-school stuff was that I took a study hall late in the day (I think it was 6th period) to basically get 45 minutes of time to do homework while still at school every day.  We had 7 periods and I only needed to take 6 classes.  I'm not sure exactly how that worked, and I know not everyone has that setup, but it worked out well.  I won't deny that it really helped, and I often could crank out most of my Calc & Physics homework before the study hall was done. 

Shop Smart Sho…

February 26th, 2018 at 5:47 PM ^

Teacher's political leanings generaly match the schools/communities they work in.

Obviously, there will be exceptions, but it's pretty easy to understand. Consider a small rural high school in a "red" state. Do you really think a bunch of flamingly liberal women are going to move out to the boonies to teach? Surely you can see that doesn't make a damn bit of sense.


February 26th, 2018 at 6:03 PM ^

Of course you can cherry pick examples, but it's not my opinion that the overwhelming majority of public school teachers vote Democrat. I'm simply stating a fact, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it one way or the other. But to suggest that girls feel the need to somehow work harder because they won't be taken seriously by their chauvinist teachers for getting the same grades as boys is completely ridiculous.


February 26th, 2018 at 6:25 PM ^

I was actually responding to Marley nowell's comment that girls have to work harder because they won't be taken seriously. I'm not sure either why the achievement Gap is growing, but I would guess that it has more to do with social structures, i e boys not taking School seriously because it isn't manly enough. But that's nothing more than a guess.


February 26th, 2018 at 9:07 PM ^

get more attention from teachers in classrooms, and this is remarkably constant whether the teachers are men or women; a million subtle evolutionary cues and a lot of culture behind this. And surely you're not unaware of the mass of data about bias against girls in the STEM pursuits, reason for programs like SciGirls, etc. But like the OP I am worried about our young men. The situation is even more pronounced in developing countries; my wife taught on a Fulbright at one of the University of the West Indies campuses and there were very few young men even around. 

Newton Gimmick

February 27th, 2018 at 2:44 PM ^

that show that teachers graded boys more poorly when they knew they were boys, and about the same as girls when they did not know the gender/sex of the student.

A lot of attention is disciplinary.  And I agree that part of the problem is that most teachers are women, and perhaps left-leaning (many modern strands of academic feminism posit boys' struggles as a competing interest, as if empathy were zero-sum).  (And no, not that a right-leaning institution would be any better at solving this problem.)