Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Enter girls, exit boys

“Girls outperform boys in exams. Pass percentage of girls higher than boys.” Come exam-results season, the newspapers are awash with similar headlines. According to a (great) article “The trouble with boys”:

In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. The number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001.

Very true. Life outside a classroom is much more interesting. I personally don’t remember the last time when I was interested in sitting in a classroom to listen to a monotonous lecture (Discussions are alright though). And I can’t recollect a single time when I was happy to write a 2/3 hour exam. The only thing I was keen on doing was to ‘get through with it as soon as possible’.

As per “Gender gap in education” (comments section): (Reworded)

Schools reward traits such as ‘sitting quietly in classrooms, listening without disruptions, working in groups and doing homework properly’, which are all better suited for girls. Boys are much better off in a chaotic, competitive environment where a free-talking and aggressive atmosphere prevails.

While the trend in the west is that girls are found in larger numbers and are performing better in schools and colleges of all sizes, I see a slightly different trend in India. Taking the pass percentage and grades into consideration, what is clearly visible is that girls in India are doing much better than boys in schools and under-graduate colleges. But on the other hand, I find the share of boys to be significantly more in post graduation courses. The ratio is even more skewed towards boys in (so-called) prestigious institutions such as IITs and IIMs.

Digging more, there seems to be interesting reasons behind this phenomenon.

It is written all over the articles (linked above) that that boys have an advantage in anything mathematical and technical while girls are better off in language skills – reading and writing. So, with a curriculum that focuses more and more on reading and verbal skills, girls are said to have an advantage when it comes to schools. And the heavy mathematical oriented entrance exam papers (CAT and IIT-JEE) are said to be the stumbling block for many girls to get into IITs/IIMs, apart from the fact many girls don’t opt to do a post-graduation course.

In all, I think the reason for girls outshining boys when it comes to school and undergraduate exams is because they are more willing than boys to put up with the system. Things could be made much more interesting by allowing some amount of free talk in classes, having short objective papers instead of really long 3 hour exam papers for which you have to memorize page 1 to end of the book.

But the much bigger (and very overlooked) question is: Should one shine academically to be a successful person career-wise? I think the answer is a straight no. If this is the case, grades and marks really don't matter and all one's got to do is to get a decent pass mark to prove a moderate level of commitment.


At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 8:14:00 PM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey Govar,

While I agree with the view that girls are probably more conducive to putting up with the system than boys, I guess another thing that needs to be considered is the way girls are brought up in India.

Most girls are brought up in a very conservative household, in spite of them being allowed to wear spaghetti tops and tight jeans, our girls still remain very conservative and 'conflict avoiders' by nature. I guess that kind of explains why they kick ass upto the graduation stage and slowly fade away, at least academically after that.


At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:12:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Hmm, close to what I was thinking. Additionally, when it comes to work, I rarely hear instances of girls saying 'I want to be a CEO' etc... while I've heard them say 'I want a life', work-life balance etc. But it's opposite with guys. Ever noted that?

At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 11:01:00 PM, Blogger pradman said...

Since you are touching upon the scientific basis of why guys do better at technical stuff than girls I guess you might be interested in knowing why women generally talk more than men... Since prehistoric times men have been hunters while women have been home makers and gatherers of fruits and berries. While men hunt they cannot afford to talk lest the prey being stalked is alerted and escapes. On the other hand women have to communicate with each other as well as the children in order to get the best results. So simply put women have just evolved into what would have been optimal for them. The same argument goes for men too.
Call me an MCP if you will but at least this is what the discovery channel says...

At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

There's absolutely nothing MCP abt it. This is exactly what most of the studies say... and the point has been nailed in the book "Why men don't listen and women can't read maps".

At Wednesday, March 29, 2006 11:39:00 PM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey Govar,

Just a small correction, you might end up hearing me say "work life balance" more often than "I wannabe CEO one day", but then yes, I do agree with you when you say more men wannabe CEOs one day rather than have a work life balance.


At Thursday, March 30, 2006 11:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but itz said that women are better managers.Whatz your say on this?

At Thursday, March 30, 2006 12:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey govarthan... i guess this isnt a v true statement in the West.... and probably true in many developing countries.. India is still a long way from attaining 100% education... y not talk abt the reason y there arent any woman entrepreneurs . i guess primarily the society is against women holding high offices . and yeah..the point anyway was abt education... i guess ppl r becoming more aware abt women empowerment and welfare... and probably we cud c more of female representation in IITs and IIMs in the coming yrz .. just wondering y I wrote this too !

At Thursday, March 30, 2006 3:13:00 PM, Blogger Jammy said...

I guess one more reason would be that girls marry early and so loose out on the few extra years that we get to plan our future. I find it difficult to imagine girls completing engineering, working for years and then opting for a MBA course - the way that we guys do it.
Anyways really appreciate your idea on "having short objective papers instead of really long 3 hour exam papers for which you have to memorize page 1 to end of the book"

At Friday, March 31, 2006 10:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhh... a post so close to my heart :-)). Would have to agree with the your rationale about the undergraduate system. Could it be the other way round, that the system is actually stopping more females from entering the more prestigious institutes. And at the same time, dont discount the society.

PS - Are you on campus yet?

At Friday, March 31, 2006 1:03:00 PM, Blogger shawnbenson52978137 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Friday, March 31, 2006 8:03:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Jam: I agree!

@Anonymous: My say on "women make better managers". I'm really not sure. As far as I see, in India at least, they are far less motivated (the majority of them), but yes, they probably relate and understand people much better. I really no have straight thoughts on that... :)

@Jammy: Very true... again boils down to settling down in life.

@Kida: We just met. :)

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