Boys who Struggle in School Might Benefit from Having More Girls as Classmates, Study Finds | Working Mother

Boys who Struggle in School Might Benefit from Having More Girls as Classmates, Study Finds

Here's why having more female classmates really makes a difference.

Boy Struggling in School

Girls have a good effect on the classroom, the study suggests.

Photo: iStock

Getting rid of the education gender gap, where boys lag behind girls academically, has been a concern for decades. While there might not be an easy fix to solve it all, a study suggests a new idea that may benefit boys struggling in the classroom: having more girls around.

According to research published in the journal School Effectiveness and School Improvement, boys do significantly better academically when more than 60 percent of their classmates are girls. To conduct the study, researchers examined the test scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds from over 8,000 mixed-sex schools around the world.

The findings imply that a higher proportion of girls makes for a more productive learning environment, researchers say. They also note previous findings that have shown that boys are impressionable to their school learning environments. By that logic, when there are more girls around, their academic performance will likely improve. Researchers also mention that girls are known for having better concentration skills and more motivation to do well, and that may rub off on their peers.

As we reported last year, boys might be struggling in school because of the nature of the school system. According to child and family psychologist John Duffy, Psy.D., author of The Available Parent, "The school system accommodates the learning styles of girls more than boys." For example, when it comes to listening to lectures in class, girls can better deal with this approach, as opposed to boys, who have shorter attention spans. Girls' education also received an advantage in the 70s because of action taken by the government, namely when Title IX passed, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance, and from $100 million in government funding.

Today, girls lead the way academically. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that female students have higher reading scores than male students at ages 9, 13 and 17. A 2015 study from the University of Missouri–Columbia and the University of Glasgow found that that 15-year-old girls outperform boys in math, reading, science and literary subjects in 70 percent of the 74 world regions they studied. And just last year, the College Board found that girls are doing better in high school than boys are, by taking more honors classes, getting better grades and having an overall higher GPA.

It's clear, girls are doing a fantastic job. It's time boys caught up.

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