Are Girls Smarter than Boys?

Richardglobalheader (4)
I was having lunch with a friend last week, a well-known and highly respected news commentator.  He is extremely up to date (maybe ahead of the date) on what is happening in the world and has a very inquisitive mind.  He asked me about my work with gender and toys and when I told him about the concern some women have over the lack of girls in the sciences he responded with this:  “Society’s concern should not be with girls but with boys.  Males are falling way behind in almost everything.”  

He is of course correct when it comes to college.  According to a USA Today Article by Mary Beth Marklein, women now dominate enrollment in and graduation from college with a split of 57% for women and 43% for men.    Prior to 1991, men dominated in these areas so the shift is historically speaking a recent one.

I saw this as an American or western issue until I chanced upon an article in this week’s China Daily entitled:  “'Bars should be lowered' for boys in exams.”  According to that article, a high level Chinese politician has expressed grave concerns that  “…male students are increasingly under-represented in the country's (China’s) leading schools and colleges, and are outperformed by female students in college entrance exams.” He sites the following statistics in making his case:  “80% of China’s poor students are males; males students in Shanghai score on average 25 points lower than females on standardized tests and male representations in Shanghai’s top high schools is more than 10% lower than females.”  His solution, have lower standards for boy then from girls.

As I considered all of this I began to think: Are girls smarter than boys?  Are these number representatives of levels of intelligence?  What does this mean for those of us who make products for girls and boys?

I will have done some research and will have some finding and thoughts on these questions in my next posting.

8 thoughts

  1. I developed a theory on the Male Crisis that shows how treatment given Males to make them tough is hurting academic growth as. To understand this we must redefine average stress as many layers of mental work that take up real mental energy. Picture an upright rectangle of full mental energy. Now begin at the bottom drawing narrowly spaced lines to represent many layers of past present future experiences *aggressions (that create mental conflict) values of self/others etc that all are being dealt with as many layers; stop about half way. The space leftover shows leftover ability to think and learn. This shows just how environments and “differential treatment” greatly affect thinking and learning not genetics. This Figure on my learning theory is for all to have.
    The problem is more complex than school curriculum or boy chemistry. We need to stop looking at where boys are in life, character, and behavior and begin looking at how boys are treated from infancy very differently from us as girls. We need to see how the more aggressive treatment they are given from infancy by parents, teachers, peers is creating more problems and less than correct behavior or care for authority and school.
    To understand this, “we must redefine our average stress as many layers of mental work we carry with us that take away real mental energy leaving less mental energy to think, learn, concentrate, and enjoy the learning process. This differential treatment creates very real differences in learning by individual and by group.
    The problem involves two entirely different treatments of Males and Females as early as one year of age and increases in differential treatment. This is creating the growing Male Crisis. The belief Males should be strong allows aggressive treatment of Males as early as one year, designed to create more layers of agitation, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with much “less” kind, stable, (very little verbal interaction) and less mental/emotional/social support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. This increases over time and continued by society from peers, teachers and others in society. This creates more social/emotional distance from parents and other authority figures who have knowledge; lags in communication, vocabulary, sentence structure; also higher average stress (more layers of mental agitated conflicts, fears taking away real mental energy) that hurts learning and motivation to learn; also more activity due to need for stress relief; also more defensiveness and wariness of others further hindering emotional and social growth; and higher muscle tension (creating more pressure on pencil and tighter grip) that hurts writing and motivation to write. It creates much lag in development creating a learned sense of helplessness in school. This differential treatment continues through adulthood, almost fixing many Males onto roads of failure and escape into more short-term areas of enjoyment. Also society gives Males love and honor (essential needs for self-worth) only on condition of some achievement or status. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and even give their lives in time of war for small measures of love and honor. Males not achieving in school or other are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not an option for fear of coddling. Many Males thus falling behind in academics then turn their attention toward video games and sports to receive small measures of love/honor not received in the classroom.
    As for reading, we need high social vocabulary, social experience with sentence structure, and “lower average stress to perform the abstract skill of reading: decoding, visualizing, organizing, reaching back into our social vocabulary to learn new words in print, and enjoying the process. Boys are deprived in these areas due to much less care, interaction, and more aggressive treatment in general.
    I feel the shows of masculinity, misbehavior are pretty much copouts to both show separation from failure in school and to gleam small measures of love and honor from peers. The defensiveness from authority is really pretty straight forward, especially in lower socioeconomic areas where strength, power, and status hold very real currency in those areas. So for those students it not just misbehavior but for them, a tug of war or fight for minimum feelings of self-worth from a continual fight they feel outside the classroom as well as in.
    The suicide epidemic is the result of Males being deprived sufficiently from those essential feelings of self-worth of less love and honor simply for being boys or men. The training they are given from an early age is preventing many of them from competing in the information age and thus losing the means to secure legally, income, status, power to earn in some way love and honor from society. This creates over time, psychological suffering that wears down their remaining feelings of self-worth to the point of suicide. As girls, we are treated much better and so enjoy more hope and care from society.
    Since we as girls by differential treatment are given much more positive, continual, mental, emotional/social support verbal interaction and care from an early age onward this creates quite the opposite outcome for girls compared with boys. We enjoy much more continuous care and support from infancy through adulthood and receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things: lower average stress for more ease of learning (we do enjoy much freedom of expression that make us look less stable at times); lower muscle tension for better handwriting/motivation; higher social vocabulary/low stress for reading/motivation; much more positive, trust/communication with adults, teachers, peers; and much more support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. The lower the socioeconomic bracket and time in that bracket the more amplified the differential treatment from a young age and increased and more differentiated over time. My learning theory and article on the Male Crisis will go to all on request or can be read from my home site at

  2. This entire subject is very steriotypical if you think about it. I mean, take my generation for example. Girls seem to be more off task than the boys. I myself am advanced in most of my subjects, along with many fellow male, and few females. I do realize that my statement is also a little steriotypical.

  3. There are some very disturbing developments steming from the gender gap in education that should give urgency to closing the gender gap. Already the question is arising among women,”Why do we need men anymore. Because girls are ou performing males accademicaly they are making enough money to become independent of men. Women’s desire for males is not the same as men’s desire for women. Whereas men’s desire for women is largely sexual women desire for males was more in line with a meal ticket for her and the kids.But as women make more money than men they no longer see any need for men. The evidence of this is that mariage is in decline. Women are choosing more and more to remain single and mothers are choosing girl babies because the future looks brighter for girls than boys and boys are identified as the chief cause in why there is so much poverty and violence in the world.
    It is not men who are poorly ajusting to making less money than women as was feared.It is women who are ajusting poorly to making more money than men. In short it is going to their heads and they think their making more money is a result of being superior and throughout all of history when people who believe they are superior get into power they will either enslave or exterminate those they regard as inferior.It would be the males who would be in line to be their victims. This is why the gender gap in education must be reformed so that it will no longer be as it now is a girl friendly system and a boy unfriendly system,Once the educational system is made gender neutral the gender gap will close and thus the potential consequences writen about above will be avoided.

  4. I agree with most of this post but the one thing I disagree with is that wereas the author thinks that the failing of boys is uninte ntional I feel much of it is intentional. I believe the women’s movement has a stragedy to establish a matriachy. They have deliberately rigged the educational system in a way that favors girls. Why? Because they know if girls out perform boys academicaly they will out compete boys for best paying jobs which because money is power will enable women to wrest control away from males. The justification for unsurping the power of males is because they have quite correctly by the way identified maleness as the chief culprit in why there is so much poverty and violence in the world. These women believe that women will rule the world in such a way as to usher in peace and prosperity.
    They will use as evidence that recent ancient societies discoveries of matriachal
    societies give evidence that these societies were peaceful and prosperous. Thus such women will say a vote for a woman is a vote for peace and prosperity.
    I agree with these women that it is maleness that is the chief cause of violence and poverty but I disagree with their belief that male rule must be eliminated. Instead I believe their objective of bringing peace and prosperity into the world can best be accomplished by creating a hybrid society that is ruled by 50% females and 50% males. We need more women in leadership roles not because women are superior but because when equal amounts of femaleness and maleness are gathered together the best decissions will be made than either gender would make alone.To have peace neither a patriachy nor matriachy be.

  5. Girls are not smarter than boys. Although developmentally, girls will often outperform boys of the same age in language and writing skills. That gap closes once boys are developmentally ready. I am the mother of a boy and one who has been concerned about the way boys are perceived and educated for some time. I was so concerned that by 3rd grade I pulled my son out of school and home schooled him.
    Being an duteous mom, in preparation for this new responsibility, I read lots of books on how boys learn. It was eye opening for me and what I came to understand was that often schools fail boys. Not intentionally, of course, but boys require a different approach than girls. Their needs are different. I don’t think a lot of teachers understand this and boys receive subtle and not so subtle admonishment for simply being wired differently than girls. Boys NEED to move around. They need to fidget and tap their pencils. It’s a biological reflex to help them stay alert in class. Boys need goals and to feel a sense of accomplishment. They often work best in teams and with the guidance of a strong mentor. Boys often end up in trouble for not listening, goofing off, etc. while girls are praised for being quiet and attentive. These daily experiences affect boys’ self-esteem and they lose interest in school. Many times I have seen a bias on the part of teachers, especially female teachers, towards female students. My son goes to a very good school now. The teachers and staff are smart, accessible and caring. I have a great deal of respect for them, but from time to time I still feel like I need to “undo” some of what gets “done” in school. I could go on and on, but here’s a link to an article that outlines some of challenges boys face in school.
    I once spoke to a child development expert about the challenges boys face in school. Besides arming me with confidence about how to help my son overcome some of the negative messages he might be getting as school, he also told me that, “Every child deserves to have an Uncle Buck in their life.” He was referring to the John Candy character in the movie “Uncle Buck.” This clip speaks for itself.

  6. Totally agree with you Richard – Boys development is an ongoing concern – be interested to see what the solutions are! Steve Reece (

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