Archive: Term of service 06 October 2006–04 October 2010

The "boy crisis" in education

- A "gender gap" exists in education in Europe and the USA. A higher proportion of young women than men go on to higher education, girls receive higher grades than boys, and amongst boys, there is a greater risk of being diagnosed with behavioural problems requiring remedial intervention. Traditional ideologies on masculinity prevent many boys from succeeding in school. These are some of the findings of the report "Boys and School: A Background Paper on the "Boy Crisis" (SOU 2010:53), authored for DEJA by Professor Michael Kimmel, and published today.

Michael Kimmel in this report for the Delegation for Gender Equality in Schools has put into an international perspective the Swedish discussion on the worse results achieved by boys.

- My hope is that the report will help to bring about a balanced discussion on the attitudes that boys and young men have towards school and higher education, says Anna Ekström, chairperson of DEJA.

The report discusses how the phenomenon of boys as a group tending to perform worse in school can be understood, and examines what remedial measures can be taken. In the industrialised world major changes have taken place in societies over the last 50 years. But the ideologies of what it means to be masculine have not adapted accordingly. Ultimately the problem is related to the lower participation and worse results attained in education by boys and young men, and also by certain behavioural problems in the school arising from ideologies on masculinity. A boy is expected to deviate from feminine norms, exude an aura of aggression and independence, and not reveal vulnerability. Challenging these ideologies is good for both girls and boys, is the view of the author.

- Throughout the industrial world, educators, parents and citizens are right to be concerned about how boys are doing in school. The gender gaps in achievement, attendance and behavior are, indeed, troubling. But unless we understand the origins of that gap in our cultural ideals about what it means to be a man, we will be unable to remedy boys's disengagement from their schooling, says Michael Kimmel.

The report, part of a series of research reports, is also published at the same time in a Swedish version under the title Pojkar och Skolan: Ett bakgrundsdokument om "pojkkrisen" (SOU 2010:53).

Michael Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is one of the world's leading researchers and writers in this area, studying masculinity constructions and the masculine ideal. He has written more than 20 books on this topic, including Guyland, Manhood in America and The Gendered Society.


The author
Department of Sociology
SUNY at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY 11794
phone: 631-632-7708
FAX: 631-632-8203
Chairperson in DEJA
Anna Ekström
08-613 48 10
Secretary in DEJA
Ulf Andersson
070-246 74 30