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William Metcalfe

A reason for the drop-out rate for young males might be related to the type of groups they form or don't join. One could compare the drop-out rates between young males who are in male dominated groups and those who have a few and/or sporadic friendships. Young males who are on sports teams or in fraternities might find the companionship an inducement to remain in school.


Looks like there is a big mistake here. Positive correlation between A and B does not mean, that A leads to B. It may be C leads to B and to A or even more complex relations. Smart people have higher chance to graduate and smart people higher chance to get good job. Does formal education increase the chance to be paid well by itself?

Male students prefer more technical specialties. Such people have a good chance to be employed if the employers feels they are smart and useful, not just formally educated. In case of humanitarian sciences, field dominated by females, diploma means much more.

I know in person several young men who left colleges before the graduation. The did so because they felt, that their wages will be higher if they leave immediately. Please note, that their employer looked for people smart enough to graduate, and smart enough to work in the firm, not just people with diploma.

To sum up the criticism on this post:
Statistical data on average hourly wages of educated people is, like most of statistic data, subject to misinterpretation through doubtful cause-effect models.


P.S: Recently there was much academic work on this subject by different authors. Many of them are trying to evaluate the importance of effects caused by asymmetric information and theoretically explain the tendency observed.

Al Fin

Actually, you are exactly right on all counts. American education has grown badly feminised to the detriment of boy students. It's as if the educational establishment from the university teachers' training, to teachers' unions, to school boards, to government depts. of education had gotten together and decided to toss boys in the garbage.


Actually, you are exactly right on all counts. American education has grown badly feminised to the detriment of boy students. It's as if the educational establishment from the university teachers' training, to teachers' unions, to school boards, to government depts. of education had gotten together and decided to toss boys in the garbage.

Joe Clerk

Muxec, thanks for explaining the difference between correlation and causation to Gary Becker. With this newfound information he may be able to win a second Noble Prize in economics.


An understanding of the problem in all probablity lies in the field of Educational Psychology. To start off with, there is Piaget's developmental psycholgy model that charts the developemnt of the human mind and its coginitive abilites. Even Piaget's preliminary studies showed there was a strong relation to gender development in it. It has been further been proven that males do considerably better when taught by males as opposed to females.

With the decline of males teaching in the primary and secondary levels, mostly due to the income disparaty that exists between income from teaching as opposed to income from working in the private sector, of course less males are going to end up as teachers. Which in the end impacts the cognitive abilites of boys in the educational system. One solution, raise teacher income.

Perhaps the following story may illuminate the problem in the post-secondary system:

A young man had been accepted into one of the top seeded public universities in the Midwest. During his first semester he made the Dean's List. In the second semester he made it onto the President's List, but after his last final of the semester, when done, he gathered up his things walked out of class, across campus and into the Marine Recruiting Station and enlisted on the spot. When asked why he had given up such a promising academic career, his response was, "I was bored to death with it all and sick of the college life as well. It was nothing more than a daily grind of study, partying, drinking, drugging, and listening to 'angry music'. I wanted to do something REAL and the Marines seemed to be as real as it gets. So I joined up."

Currently, that young man is now in the dust bin of Iraq, an operative with a Company Level Intelligence Cell. Talk about reality huh?

How many women have the innate courage to pull a stunt like that?

William Metcalfe

Posted by neilehat at March 3, 2008 wrote

How many women have the innate courage to pull a stunt like that?--------------------
There are different degrees and kinds of courage. For millennium, pregnancy was more dangerous than fighting.
I once saw a street thug faint at the sight of a hypodermic when a nurse wanted to draw some blood. This was a man who, unarmed, had faced an other armed with a knife.


Been Feminised by a gender dominated education system, ehh Bill?


Two reasons I see might be possible.

1) men can drop out and still expect to obtain valuable employment. Gender differences in employment and compensation do not require men to achieve such an advanced level of education. A male can drop out as a freshman and might be able to make the same amount as a woman who completes her college education. not sure if the statistics would back this up, but seems plausible.

2) male / female sterotypes still exist even as the workplace is becoming more gender friendly. for example, men are still widely expected (in some regions and economic levels) to take financial care of the family. This "burden" might require that men drop out to make financial ends meet, while women might be more free to pursue their educational goals. in the past this might have been balanced by earlier pregancies which would limit a woman's ability to continue her education, but as mentioned, less and less women are taking such a path due to birth control, legalized abortion, etc.
In addition, as per reason 1), if the decision between a couple came down to one or the other dropping out to make money, the choice would probably be the man, as there are better financial opportunities as a college dropout for men.


My daughter is a HS junior. We are looking at colleges. It is interesting to note the differences in male/female student ratios at different schools. Some can climb as high as 65/35 with more being female.

Some schools struggle to attain a 50/50 ratio, and commit to it. This means they are probably selecting less qualified men than women.

I assume that schools with an unbalanced ratio, have a harder time attracting qualified male candidates, so they don't admit the unqualified ones.


There is some evidence that men are distracted by women in the classroom, but not vice versa. Basically, men think about having sex with the women they attend class with, while women think about what the teacher/professor is saying.

Also, grades don't track intelligence nearly as well as standardized tests, where men at worst are the equals of women (on average of course).


A large part of the answer has to do with the types of behaviors for which society rewards young males. As a former class clown I can assure you that disruptive behavior takes a toll on your grades, but lifts your social status and brings attention from the opposite sex. Perhaps males' inelastic response to long-term earning power is a result of an elastic response to short term social and mating success. That's a pretty logical trade off to make.


It may just be that there are more non-college options in fields that men tend to find attractive. I am thinking of the military, construction, heavy industry, and other such trades which tend to disproportionately attract men. Some of these jobs pay rather well, as any homeowner searching for skilled tradesmen can tell you. During the recent real estate boom, I observed a number of highly educated men leaving the depressed technology sector to enter construction trades that did not require any higher education. I have an airline pilot as a painting contractor right now. Still flies when he can get routes, but was forced to diversify his sources of income after 9/11. Women do not tend to enter these fields.


I'm a grad student and I've done couples of years of teaching and tutoring, whether to individuals or co-ed groups. During those teaching periods, I felt that many female students, despite bright and seemingly confident, perceive challenges as demands to prove themselves and thus appear competitive. Sometimes I will ask them question to guide them towards the solution to a HW problem, but often times they get defensive at the original logic they pursued.
Perhaps competitiveness against sexism contributed partly to academic success?
Yes, and these girls are sometimes very assertive and blunt in challenging the teachers.


Comment by Joe Clerk makes me think, that my post was not understood, I will explain it again.

In his early works on human capital Gary Becker shows the productivity gains given by education. Did the situation just change with time? Some of the possible reasons are:

1. Better availability of high-quality learning material.
2. The demand for skilled workers is limited.
3. Shift from manufacturing to services.

Slightly irrelevant example:
Does greater number of lawyers lead to higher national productivity? USA is world's first now. Lawyers work hard to create even more job opportunities for even more lawyers, number of absurd cases handled by courts increases. Does it really boost productivity?


This is a tricky matter. While Muxec might be right that employers look primarily for people who are smart enough to graduate rather than for a diploma, for employers who sort through vast numbers of applications, having a diploma is often the easiest way to thin the herd, whether they personally think a diploma's necessary or not. An analogous situation is college applications, colleges look at SAT scores not because they want high scorers or they think SAT's are accurate, but because they simply need a standardized measure that can allow them to quickly cut down the mound of applications.

As to the gender gap itself. The matter is as I said tricky. One explanation, boys might have a greater tendency towards self-destructive or generally destructive behavior which makes their school life unpleasant. For evidence I cite for you the greater levels of male manic-depression and the greater grade variance Becker mentioned. However, that's not very solid evidence, it's just an idea. I do think however, there is in general (although I caution myself by saying this is a general trend not an iron rule) tendency for men to have more of a driving ambition, which often leads to a restlessness in a static environment such as a school. This restlessness then colors the judgment of some men who jump at more short-term chances for professional/personal success other than school. Perhaps.


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