In something called Upshot, apparently the love child of the New York Times, I find a piece by a negligible robot happily chronicling the failures of boys in school. This has become a ritual for feminists and pussy-whipped male Sonderkommandos. If smugness and condescension were oil, these tail-wagging unmen would be gushers, maybe a gas field.
This particular dropping rattles on (if droppings rattle) about the superior “social skills” of girls, which in fact they have. (“Social skills” is illiterate sociobabble. It is plural, so I ask, what are these skills? Bright smile? Curtsey? Subtle flattery? “Sally has a really good bright smile, but her subtle flattery needs work.”)
After running on about the superior social skills of girls (meaning that they are docile, obedient, easily managed, and seek approval from teachers), the author, David Leonhardt, points out that girls are getting far more four-year college degrees, etc. All true.
He does not point out is that schools at all levels have been made (deliberately, I think) so hostile to males (the endless sexual-harassment propaganda), with so heavy an emphasis on procedure complied with instead of material mastered (neat homework, pretty pictures pasted into projects), and so much emphasis on socialization to feminine norms and on inculcation of Appropriate Values, that boys are asphyxiated. It is intellectual water-boarding. And has produced the desired result.
There is in all of this much schadenfreude from women who enjoy seeing boys fail, and a great deal of passive aggression: “Bobby, we are making your life miserable and doing our best to turn you into an involuntary lesbian for your own good. Now keep quiet, take your Ritalin, and don’t move an inch, you little bastard.”A thread running through it all is the notion that boys are just, well, to put it frankly, not very smart, good perhaps for carrying heavy objects but not suited to a modern world founded on intelligence. A couple of quotes catch this:
“As the economy continues to shift away from brawn and toward brains, many men have struggled with the transition.” And “’Boys are getting the wrong message about what you need to do to be successful,’ Ms. Buchmann says. ‘Traditional gender roles are misguiding boys. In today’s economy, being tough and being strong are not what leads to success.’”
Women of feminist stripe have always resented the physical strength of men and have argued that either it doesn’t really exist or that it doesn’t matter (women in the infantry), and that anyway women are more intelligent if not held back by oppressive etc. It may well be true that women are more suited to a bureaucratic society in which order, procedure, following rules, and placidity are paramount. However, in the matter of brains and their importance for the economy, it is interesting to check the facts.
Boys are not less intelligent than girls. In post-pubertal IQ, males have only a small advantage in mean IQ, perhaps because of their slightly larger brains or perhaps because it is an artifact of testing. What is not debatable is that men have higher variance in intelligence, meaning a broader range of scores—i.e., there are more very smart men than women, and very stupid men than women. The math predicts that at two standard deviations from the mean, IQ 130, there should be two men per woman. Checking Mensa membership by sex (Mensa requiring 130 for membership, the top two percent) we find—who would have guessed it—that the membership is 66% male. Two to one.
The Graduate Record Examination is a high-end test given to college graduates, usually because they want to go to grad school. The scores are broken down by career field (the chart is worth a glance) and by verbal and mathematical ability. The eight highest-scoring fields—physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, chemical engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering—have blistering math scores, and are all…all…dominated by men.
The two lowest-scoring careers are education, overwhelmingly female, and public administration. Thus we have morons, administered by slightly worse morons, trying to teach boys who, at the high end, are so much smarter than the teachers as to constitute another species.
I suspect that the psychologists, ed majors, therapists and suchlike clutter who hold forth on schooling on boys simply have no idea of what high intelligence is or why it matters. In the foregoing I mentioned standard deviation:
For the little boy who one day will pop 710 on the math GREs, such things are neither frightening nor off-putting. They are fascinating. Such kids could certainly grasp the notation above while taking eighth-grade algebra. From these boys—they are almost always boys—come the things that make for international competiveness. We would be very wise to keep this in mind. We will not.
For decades and decades, America has made pandering to political groups—teachers’ unions, racial lobbies, feminists—more important than quality in schooling. In 1980, in a piece for Harper’s, I wrote, “Evidence of this appears periodically, as, for example, in the results of a competency test given to applicants for teaching positions in Pinellas County, Florida, cited in Time, June 16, 1980. To pass this grueling examination, an applicant had to be able to read at the tenth-grade level and do arithmetic at the eighth-grade level. Though they all held B.A.’s, 25 percent of the whites and 79 percent of the blacks failed. Similar statistics exist for other places.” Morons to the left, morons to the right, and not a drop to drink.
Thus did we, and thus do we. We have dumbed down tests, simplified curricula, and debased grading to make various groups look better than they are.
Boys flourish, as do men, when they are allowed to compete, preferably in the company of other males, in fields of their choosing, without strangling social rules. Silicon Valley is the wild west of such endeavor. Consider the following start-ups, and who started them:
Google (Sergei Bryn, Larry Page), Intel (Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce), Apple (Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak), Microsoft (Bill Gates), Dell Computer (Michael Dell), Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), YouTube (Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim), Netscape (Mark Andreesen), Yahoo (Jerry Yang, David Filo), AMD (long list of guys from Fairchild Semiconductor), Twitter (Jack Dorsey), Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger), PayPal (Peter Thiel), Ebay (Pierre Omidyar). Et very cetera.
Forgive me for laboring the point, but I think it important for the country’s future to understand who we need to encourage. Who invented the following?
Euclidean geometry. Parabolic geometry. Hyperbolic geometry. Projective geometry. Differential geometry. Algebra. Limits, continuity, differentiation, integration. Physical chemistry. Organic chemistry. Biochemistry. Classical mechanics. The indeterminacy principle. The wave equation. The Parthenon. The Anabasis. Air conditioning. Number theory. Romanesque architecture. Gothic architecture. Information theory. Entropy. Enthalpy. Almost every symphony ever written. Pierre Auguste Renoir. The twelve-tone scale. The mathematics behind it, twelfth root of two and all that. S-p hybrid bonding orbitals. The Bohr-Sommerfeld atom. The purine-pyrimidine structure of the DNA ladder. Single-sideband radio. All other radio. Dentistry. The internal-combustion engine. Turbojets. Turbofans. Doppler beam-sharpening. Penicillin. Airplanes. Surgery. The mammogram. The Pill. The condom. Polio vaccine. The integrated circuit. The computer. Football. Computational fluid dynamics. Tensors. The Constitution. Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Homer, Hesiod. Glass. Rubber. Nylon. Roads. Buildings. Elvis. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. (OK, those are nerve agents, and maybe we didn’t really need them.) Silicone. The automobile. Really weird stuff, like clathrates, Buckyballs, and rotaxanes. The Bible. Bug spray. Diffie-Hellman, public-key cryptography, and RSA. Et cetera.
Enough. Leonhardt ends on a note of almost kinky submissiveness: “The problem doesn’t simply involve men trying to overcome the demise of a local factory or teenage boys getting into trouble. It involves children so young that most haven’t even learned the word ‘gender.’ Yet their gender is already starting to cast a long shadow over their lives.”
Just so. But it is not their own gender casting the shadow.