Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why it Matters, and What to do About it. by Richard V. Reeves.
I heard Richard Reeves on Public Radio last winter and his research resonated with me. We have done great work over the past 20-30 years at promoting girls / women to better careers (we still have more to do) but there is something going on with the males. While I was at the community college a local middle school counselor came to me explaining that they had this special day for all the girls who went to the state capital for some type of event, leaving the boys behind…with nothing to do.
What’s the message to the boys? They could not do regular school work because the girls would miss it. So the boys had a “nothing” day. The middle school counselor asked if we could do a career day for the boys. Which we did and it was a huge success. But don’t the girls need career development?
Reeves argues that we need to continue to do the work with girls & women and that his concerns are not to the detriment of that work, but that we need to strive for gender equity. Both genders should rise together.
We currently have more women attending college, more men in drug overdoses, suicide, alcohol related diseases, and unemployed. The men have been hit hard in employment as manufacturing in the US has been reduced or shipped overseas as well as other heavy industries.
The research he shares is wide and varied. He shows that women mature earlier than men creating an educational gap. One suggestion he has is to create an extra year for the boys so they begin school a little older which would help them mostly in middle / high school.
One quote that resonated with me was from the Headmaster at Stowe School in England who said his goal was to, “cultivating men who would be acceptable at a dance and invaluable in a shipwreck.” Reeves recognizes that males are inherently different from women in that they are physically stronger, willing to take more risks (which gets them into trouble occasionally), and are protective. But, they also have another side to them that should be “acceptable at a dance” and that is the side of males we as a society should be cultivating more.
There is so much good information to sift through that I literally want to reread this book. So I may add more to this post in the future. But here are some recommendations from the author that are interesting to consider.
- extra year of Pre-K for the boys
- recruitment of more male teachers (we need to show that males can do many jobs that women are currently doing…just like we’ve done with women).
Another quote I loved has been for females for years, “women can do any job a man can do“.
Now we need to take that quote for men and allow men to consider what Reeves calls, “HEAL” occupations. Health, Education, Administration, Literacy).
- increase vocational / technical education. This has been a soapbox for me for years. We have removed industrial arts from most high schools and too often, made it look like vocational-technical education was for people who could not do college prep. My brother is a furniture designer who thrived in all the industrial arts classes our HS offered. It allowed him to show skills that he had that had a use in our society.
Society needs to tackle this issue of losing our boys/men and NOT to the detriment of the good work we are doing for females, but we need be equitable in how we advance both genders.
Men have been privileged for centuries. It’s hard to believe that most of the college educated people in the US were white men until the 1950’s and that most of the decision makers in politics and businesses have been men. We have much work to do on those fronts. But lets not lose the boys either.