The Sydney Morning Herald’s Benjamin Preiss reports that the gender pay gap has doubled over the last year — with women, as usual, coming off worst in most professions. Meanwhile a few weeks ago, Josephine Tovey and Amy McNeilage reported that in New South Wales girls have outperformed boys in maths for the first time– though for many years, girls have outperformed boys in every other HSC subject.
There is always much hand-wringing when the HSC results are released, about how and why our education system is failing our boys (and quite often the blame is assigned to female teachers — especially if you read the comments), but I would suggest that our boys aren’t being failed at all. Priess paraphrases Professor Anne Bardoel, saying that “the findings [about the gender pay gap] were surprising given that female students often outperformed their male peers,” but I don’t find this surprising at all. I would hypothesise, quite simply, that boys don’t work as hard at their schoolwork because they don’t have to. Because they are still, in the vast majority of professions going to earn more than their female classmates. Because if they enter into a female dominated profession, such as primary teaching, they are far more likely to be promoted above their female peers. Meanwhile, boys have many more options with respect to entering trades — particularly well-paid ones — in comparison with girls.
Really, is it any wonder that high school boys don’t do as well as high school girls? Why in the world would they need to, when it seems that the old adage that women and girls have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good still has a lot of truth to it.