Dustin Dwyer

We've mentioned here more than once that boys tend to trail girls in academic settings. Boys are also more likely to get in trouble, and more likely to commit crimes as adults.

Some have argued that the differences in outcomes we see for boys has to do with innate differences between boys and girls. We are told that boys are more active learners, that schools have become feminized in a way that hurts boys. 

But there is also substantial evidence that boys are simply raised with different expectations than girls, and these different expectations may be what's leading to different outcomes. 

Which leads me to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In it, researchers tried to get to the bottom of one of the more well-documented differences between gender groups: That men are more likely to lie than women. 

Dustin Dwyer

If you follow our work here on State of Opportunity, it will not be news to hear that girls currently outperform boys on most academic measures

A piece published a few days ago over at The Atlantic points out that this isn't just an American phenomenon; girls are doing better than boys in schools all around the world. This disparity has immense consequences for our education system, in part because, as I reported last year in our documentary "Be A Man," gender acts as a multiplying factor for other types of educational achievement gaps. The gaps we see between students based on family income and race are both much worse for males than females. If we want to tackle these achievement gaps, we can't ignore gender. 

So how can we help boys catch up to girls in school? One idea that seems to have a lot of traction lately is just to let boys get away with doing less. 

It’s been a long, hot summer for uncomfortable questions about masculinity---at least in my news and pop culture consumption it has.

The George Zimmerman trial and its outcome have author James Baldwin’s words pinging around my brain: “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” 

Dustin Dwyer

Chapter 1 

"That’s when you need somebody."

Fourteen-year-old Mario lives … somewhere in Grand Rapids. He doesn’t want to be identified on the air.

He sits, dressed in a plain white t-shirt, khaki colored pants and white, low-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars. We’re in a sunny hallway at the downtown Grand Rapids campus of Grand Valley State University. Mario is here, attending a summer program from the Hispanic Center of West Michigan – a program meant to help keep kids on track academically while school is out. 

Next year, Mario will be in the eighth grade, at a middle school in Grand Rapids.

I ask him if it's a pretty good school. "Kind of," he says. I ask him what isn't good about it. "There's too much gangs, stuff like that."

We're rolling out a few programs and events all about how the American family is changing and how that matters for children who grow up in these families.

Next Wednesday, July 24th, we'll be meeting at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti for an Issues and Ale event talking about the role of men in kids lives. (We refer to it in State of Opportunity shorthand as throwing out the question,"Do kids need dads?")

flickr user el frijole

  If you want to know how kids gets their ideas about something like race or gender, it’s not just a matter of asking them. They might not know where they got their ideas. And you can’t really control all the variables.

For nearly two decades, psychologist Rebecca Bigler at the University of Texas has been testing race and gender ideas using colored t-shirts in a summer school program. 

Dustin Dwyer

We are still a long way from gender equality in the United States. Women currently make less money than men, even when working the same job. And when it comes to getting the top jobs, women are less likely to make the climb

But there's one area where women have not only caught up with men, they've pulled ahead: education.