Posted by: Kenn Hermann | December 20, 2007

Where Are the Bright University Men?

All of those decades ago when I was in elementary school, it was quite common for girls to outperform boys in the elementary grades. We gradually pulled even with them, by and large, by senior high. My college and graduate school experiences showed more men doing very well academically. That seems no longer to be true. Now we hear a good deal about the disquieting trend in the secondary schools that sees young boys falling further and further behind young girls in academic achievement. That same trend seems to have shown up at the university level over at least the past decade, based on my own experience in the classroom over many semesters.

This semester was the most remarkable in the large number of women who got A’s from me. In one class of 20 online students, I had 5 women who got A’s and no men; the highest man got a B+. In another class of 50 classroom students, I had 2 women who scored an A- and 3 who scored an A; there was one man who got an A. In a third class of 30 students I had 3 women who came away with A’s and one man. This is a trend that has been building over many semesters.

One large contributing factor, it seems from my experience, is the comparatively large number of women in mid-life who are beginning college or returning to finish a degree that was interrupted by raising a family. These women are highly intelligent and extremely motivated. I can point to only a few men over that same time span who were as bright and motivated. If you are a professor, what is your experience with gender differences in academic achievement? If you are a male or female university student, what has been your experience with gender differences in academic performance? The sociologists out there can offer their hypotheses, guesses, or research data to explain this trend.

Check out this related article in the NYT on “Giving Disorganized Boys the Tools for Success.”


  1. girls are generally more dedicated. i don’t know why that is, but it just is.

  2. in my personal experience, that is

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