Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What's Happening to Boys?

While there has been a definite focus on the lack of career opportunities and upward mobility for girls, there is apparently another growing trend: boys are becoming slackers. "Girls are driven," according to Judy Kleinfeld of the University of Alaska -- contrary to empirical evidence. Boys lack direction, lack motivation. Females have apparently been surpassing males in academics, as their attendance in post secondary has grown. Against this competition, boys have stagnated.

In her Boys Project, Kleinfeld explores what may be responsible for the decline. One of the most intriguing theories is the cultural change, as the traditional definition of manliness changes. In the past, there was no question about what it meant to be male. There wasn't allowed to be any questioning of it in fact. Men were in charge. The possibilities open to them were endless. As women's roles in society changed, men seemed lost, unable to land on a stable definition of what it means to be male. How can "being in charge" still be a definition of a male, when women can be in charge as well?

As society changes -- evolves if you will -- from one that needs the brute and authoritarian leader, to one where the skills of collaboration and community are the keys to success, are females simply built better to succeed? In this new world, are women and men with the skills of the diplomat and the tendency to compromise going to be the ones who succeed? In the measures of this new world, are women simply smarter? Only time will tell. Give it a century or two.

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