Women in the United States now earn 62 percent of associate’s degrees, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees, and 52 percent of doctorates.The numbers on the generation currently in high school are even worse, with nearly twice as many girls saying they expect to graduate from college or pursue graduate study.
Meanwhile, the economic consequences of not getting an education grow more and more dire:
For men ages 25 to 64 with no high school diploma, median annual earnings have declined 66 percent since 1969; for men with only a high school diploma, wages declined by 47 percent.In other words, increasing inequality in the country is mainly about increasing inequality among men. Some are doing great -- running the world, in fact -- but many are struggling.
In the Atlantic, Christina Hoff Summers agues that we need to reduce the emphasis on theoretical learning for boys and bring back vocational training:
Sumitra Rajagopalan, an adjunct professor of biomechanics at Canada’s McGill University, developed a program for disengaged teenage boys in Montreal, where one in three male students drops out of high school. The male students she met were bored by their classroom instruction and starved for hands-on activities. She was shocked to find that many had never held a hammer or screwdriver. Under her supervision, the boys built a solar driven Stirling engine from Coca-Cola cans and straws.” Boys are born tinkerers,” she said. “They have a deep-seated need to rip things apart, decode their inner workings, create stuff.”Which is fine with me; I think this "high school should prepare everybody for college" fad is crazy, and more vocational training would probably help a lot of boys. But in my experience, many boys would not respond nearly as well as Summers hopes. Some would be happy to learn real, practical skills, but many don't much want to learn anything.
I don't think there is any way for us to make high school something that every teenager wants to do. People pursue education mainly because they have some goal in mind. As I have been arguing for years, our basic problem is that the rewards you get for following the rules and obeying your teachers, parents and bosses and generally following the middle class script just don't seem very attractive to millions of Americans, especially young men. What we can do about that, I have no idea.