The Mystery of the Disappearing Boys

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About John Edale

Good Men Project Staff Writer John Edale is a father, writer and blogger from Birmingham, UK. He is the author of Free Rides, a collection of short stories about hitch-hiking. You can find him blogging here and tweeting @john_edale.


  1. AnthonyZarat says:

    You have the courage to say the unsayable:

    “Is it possible that the gender feminists were just saying what people already wanted to hear and were, perhaps unwittingly, exploiting a pre-existing problem?”

    If you continue down this read, you must be ready to face the consequences of speaking truth to power.

  2. If you adjust for the discrimination revealed in the studies posted by Erik (me) in this thread the gender gap goes away:

    There is not actually much, if any gap in school in terms of learning or actual knowledge acquired or even how well the genders do on tests. There is just a difference in how well the genders are graded.

    People think boys have started doing worse and girls have stared doing better but this is wrong. Girls are also doing worse they are just receiving higher grades. If you look at the actual knowledge of students today they are lagging years behind the students 50 years ago in math, reading, writing, science and probably everything else. There are many tests that show this and a review of the curriculum in the past and today also revel this. What students where expected to learn 50 years ago was at a level several years above what they are expected to learn today. Several countries have had TV-shows where students are enrolled in a boarding school and taught the exact same stuff they where expected to know 50 years ago and are taught with the exact same methods they where taught at the time and the same behavioral standards. What happens is that when taught this way the students catch up. There is nothing preventing students today from learning at that level one just have to demand it and teach it in a manner much more similar to previous times.

  3. I saw a few boys in highschool give up more vs the girls. The mantra seemed to be that girls were smarter, also the smart kids got bullied which stopped myself from trying harder in school because it wasn’t cool.

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      Where does this mantra comes from? I was thinking, is there a remote possibility that smart boys are bullied away by other boys and girl? if yes what can be done about it?

      • FlyingKal says:

        @Mr Supertypo:
        is there a remote possibility that smart boys are bullied away by other boys and girl?
        Other boys, girls, and teachers, yes.
        In some cases even by parents and/or other “peers”.

        In the words of John Lennon:
        They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
        They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
        Till you’re so f*ing crazy you can’t follow their rules

    • I seriously doubt the bullying of smart kids was caused by feminism. That kind of bullying predated the feminist movement. I’d say the cause was and has been anti-intellectualism. Intellectual men have always been negatively stereotyped in our popular culture. For example, today we have Dennis Miller publicly ridiculing scientists as “pencil-necked geeks.” (Of course, his comments encourage bullying.) This attitude certainly didn’t come from the feminist movement. It’s embraced by many boys and men as well. Some, if not many, high schools are among the most anti-intellectual institutions in the country.

  4. Mr Supertypo says:


    • It’s hard to see anything changing until the problem receives the same amount of attention that is given to other inequalities.

      One possibility would be for more people to raise the issue in forums where education, gender and equality are being discussed.

      Another possibility would be for people to contact those organizations in their own countries that are responsible for promoting educational equality, or equality in general, and asking what their position on the gender gap is, whether they acknowledge it as an inequality and whether they have any plans to try to address it. If they don’t then make a complaint. I think this is especially important for publicly funded organisations such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK. If an organisation is receiving public money to promote equality then they ought to be obliged to stick to the dictionary definition of the term.

  5. Mr Supertypo says:

    sorry I forgot the caps on…

  6. Martin Nash says:

    Thanks John. I have been working in higher education for nearly a decade and noticed similar trends myself. About a year ago I did some leg work and then left it. You have continued beyond where I gave up and come to some interesting conclusions.

    Sadly I have no solution either, but do agree that the continued pushing of women into STEM while ignoring the diminishing number of men in social sciences is risking a different crisis to the one we were trying to avoid.

  7. IN variuos countries extra credits are given for women to enter all sorts of subjects where there are more men but very little or no credits for men to enter fields with more women than men. The total effect is less men taking higher education because the extra credits means the average entry requirements are lower for women than men.

  8. Hi John
    The same thing happens in Scamdinavia,and it is widely discussed and not ignored.
    But this is complicated.

    I guess you don’t read Swedish. But scroll down and see the long list of Umibersity teachers behind this report:

    The report tells us that students at the university in Sweden do not understand Swedish. And here we talk about kids born and raised in Sweden. Immigrant kids know grammar better! Something strange is happening……

    Swedish student do not understand what they read,can not write ,do not understand questions in writing etc. Boys and girls.

    We also have a percentage of men,boys here that fall drop out of school.

  9. Hi Iben,

    Does the report identify any likely causes or suggest any solutions?

  10. Hi John

    This report is not an analyzes.
    The university teacher simply want to tell us ,the authorities ,the politicians that we have serious problem with the young students that come out of high school and enter the universities.

    They have not analyzed why this is so. All they do is describe it. Try Google translate from Swedish to English.

    They believe the problem is caused by the schools itself. They say the students are as bright as ever,but they do not master language.

    Here is a report from Norway with summary in English. I have no idea if it is of any value but this only points to the schools themselves.

    This is not my field,but I think serious issues like what happens to boys are complicated. There is seldom only one cause.

  11. Hi John
    the link I sent did not open so I try again: the school without drop outs.
    I do not know if this is any good,but it gives some ideas.
    This is about the schools without boys falling off..

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    Going into social science, at least in the US, is not the way to anticipate making a good living, or even paying off student debt.
    I don’t see that any kind of discrimination is necessary to explain that particular stat.
    However, anecdata tell us that social sciences can be seen from time to time as anti-men, anti-conservative, pro-progressive, all of which might cause men to think about other fields.

  13. Hi John

    Here is a link:

    Since boys lag behind in my so many areas around the world,it is wise to look for structural changes in our societies.

    • Hi Iben,

      Interesting article. Shows the complexities involved in trying to deal with the problem even in a single city, but also shows that some progress can be made if there is the will to do it.


  1. […] this year I wrote about the problem of educational underachievement by boys in the developed world, and how reluctant we seem to be to even acknowledge this as a problem let […]

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