Background: – Give us the applause we deserve
Anna Stensrud wrote that, unlike rapports warning about it, it’s not a bad thing that boys fail education and that there’s female-majority unequal representation at university. No, it’s a good thing, because, according to her, it’s entirely justified, since flinke piker «work so hard and motivated» and boys «just don’t keep up». So, she concludes, we should shush anyone raising boys’ underperformance as agenda-point, and applaud girls.
Also read: – Girls outperform boys. So what?
However, these issues aren’t that simple. For example, look at the fact that universities (including University of Oslo) don’t hire sufficient female academic staff to establish a gender-balance. The problem here isn’t simply university hiring practices. Statistically, female candidates are actually more likely than similar male candidates to get academic positions PhD and up. The problem, rather, is that fewer women apply. Exactly here, feminist analysis has helped us understand what deeper issues are at work, by considering how women are socialised to value particular things in life, and in turn come to aspire different careers, causing fewer women to aspire to academia.
I wonder if the author thinks that boys are genetically bad students
Similarly, in the case of boys failing school, the story isn’t as simple as boys ‘just not being so flink’. I wonder if the author thinks that boys are genetically bad students, or that each individual freely chooses to flunk their education? No, society also has a significant effect on shaping boys. For example, feminist analysis of masculinity shows how socialisation teaches boys to not form studious attitudes and to not value school performance.
As third example, I will just ask the author and readers a rhetorical question, putting these issues into an intersectional perspective: Students from low-socioeconomic and from non-White immigrant parental backgrounds perform badly throughout the educational system (highest and second highest under-representations at uni, respectively – UiO address this more!). Is this also simply because poor students and students of colour «just don’t keep up», while rich and White students are «so motivated»? Should we applaud rich and White students? Of course, individual choices matter somewhat. But we should also look at systemic societal factors that shape the character and actions of poor, rich, White, non-White, female, and male students, and organise society such that every person/group has equal opportunity develop into a flink/virtuous person and be equally represented.
Girls outperform boys – and itʼs only getting started