In fact, Dr. Somers is the step-mother of a colleague of mine, and so I won’t dwell on the possible motives for her friendly voice for feminism in today’s NY Times. It would be very mean to suggest she has her eye on sales of the book she is about to reissue. (That book is called The War Against boys.) So let me just note that she relays some interesting ideas about why boys do less well in school than girls, as it seems. She does seem to think its due to universally shared male characteristics, like being feckless and lazy.
As our schools have become more feelings-centered, risk-averse, collaboration-oriented and sedentary, they have moved further and further from boys’ characteristic sensibilities. Concerns about boys arose during a time of tech bubble prosperity; now, more than a decade later, there are major policy reasons — besides the stale “culture wars” of the 1990s — to focus on boys’ schooling.
We addressed the research behind the idea that boys and girls have brains fundamentally different in the way Somers described. Cordelia Fine, who will be speaking at the Central APA in a few weeks, has recently made the idea even more implausible.
Still, we can probably all get behind her closing sentence: The rise of women, however long overdue, does not require the fall of men.