Council on Women and Girls
As the older brother of two sisters, the husband of a fine lady who is one of four daughters and the father of two girls…my ears perked up when I heard this.
President Barack Obama invoked the travails of women in his family as he signed an executive order on Wednesday establishing a new interagency panel devoted to the concerns of women and girls.
“I sign this order not just as a president, but as a son, as a grandson, a husband and a father,” Obama told a mostly female audience of activists and lawmakers in the East Room of the White House. “I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling—how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.”
Huh. And so we have the White House Council on Women and Girls. OK. As reported by Lisa Belkin, they’re going to try to address the problems faced with today’s working mothers and how “the challenges confronted by women and girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families.” As Belkin notes, though, “too many of the problems women and girls have in the world stem from the fact that the problems are considered ‘their’ problems — ‘women’s problems’ — rather than problems that both genders share.” She lists unequal pay, maternity leave, childcare and work/life balance as issues of concern to families. OK. That’s a valid point.
But I could’ve sworn I’ve been reading about how girls have made some major strides and have surpassed boys in college attendance, for instance. Like this from 2003:
Thirty years after the passage of equal opportunity laws, girls are graduating from high school and college and going into professions and businesses in record numbers.
Now, it’s the boys who could use a little help in school, where they’re falling behind their female counterparts.
And if you think it’s just boys from the inner cities, think again. It’s happening in all segments of society, in all 50 states. That’s why more and more educators are calling for a new national effort to put boys on an equal footing with their sisters.
Not only do national statistics forecast a continued decline in the percentage of males on college campuses, but the drops are seen in all races, income groups and fields of study, says policy analyst Thomas Mortenson, publisher of the influential Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Since 1995, he has been tracking — and sounding the alarm about — the dwindling presence of men in colleges.
By 2020, some studies say that 156 women will earn B.A.s for each 100 men. At the same time, manufacturing, the traditional fallback option for less-educated men, is declining rapidly in the U.S. Aside from the predictable jokes about how easy it is for male college students to find dates, this means that women may very well pick up a good deal of men’s professional and academic slack in coming decades.
And last year:
An analysis of standardized test scores from more than 7.2 million students in grades 2 through 11 found no difference in math scores for girls and boys, contradicting the pervasive belief that most women aren’t hard-wired for careers in science and technology.
The study also undermined the assumption — infamously espoused by former Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers in 2005 — that boys are more likely than girls to be math geniuses. Girls scored in the top 5% almost as often as boys, the data showed.
Maybe the Obama outlook on gender equity is akin to his economic policy: stuck in the ’70’s. But whatever. My question is, given the clear trends here, will there be a Council on Boys?