« The Ideal Is Male And Under 50: An Update | Blog Main | Want a Byline? »

The gender wars are heating up again.

That was the first line of an opinion piece FairerScience co-PI Susan Bailey and I wrote in 1999. Unfortunately it seems as timely today as it was then.

We stated by saying "Too much of the current dialog on the education of girls and boys has the sound of a prizefight. In one corner are those who say that boys, not girls are shortchanged in school. In fact, they say, the attention paid to girls has harmed boys. In the other corner are those who contend that boys are fine and that girls are the ones with the real problems. The bell rings and the two sides come out swinging, each with its own set of statistics to prove not only that their side is the truly shortchanged, but that it is the fault of the "other side.""

Sound familiar?

We pointed out: "We must get past the idea that education is a zero sum game where a step forward for girls is automatically a step backward for boys. Problems remain in our schools but these problems are not limited to "only girls" or "only boys". Teachers know that when something works for girls, it often works for boys as well. For example, providing students with hands on experiments reflecting the ways science relates to daily life has proven helpful in involving girls in science. This approach works for boys, too. Not allowing student "putdowns" makes many girls feel more comfortable in class and boys find they also learn better when they don't have to worry about being teased or insulted."

Sound reasonable?

And we ended by saying "What isn't talked about is our fear that boys who do "girl" things will somehow become "less manly". When caring, nurturing and the expression of feelings are seen as "girls' stuff" and "girls' stuff" is seen as not good for boys, boys are at emotional risk."

Sound right?

I just wish that it sounded out of date.