By Charles Cooper
Years of male preference in Chinese society may have made sense during its agricultural days, but in a modern metropolis like Shanghai where education is key, it seems Chinese families may have been backing the wrong horse. If China could get anymore patriarchal, the latest proposal to bridge the educational performance gap between the female and male students in many high schools and universities would surely do the trick.
Wang Ronghua, director of the Shanghai Education Development Foundation, has expressed his concern about the under-representation of the male student population in the country’s leading schools and colleges, warning of the impact this will have on the science and technology innovations in China. Wang, as you can tell, is quite the feminist.
Essentially, 80% of the nation’s 50 million students who are rated as “poor students” are male; on average, scoring 25 points lower than their female classmates on the annual entrance exam for senior high school. Consequently, in Shanghai High School, one of the best in Shanghai, the percentage of males has declined from 65% 20 years ago, to its all-time low of 35%.
“I am afraid it will become a ‘female school’ in just a few years,” Wang said. Meanwhile, some poor schmuck will have to contend with the fact that almost three out of every four students is a girl and they’re still a virgin.
So when Shanghai students defeated their freedom-loving Western counterparts in test scores, it was really the girls doing all of the heavy-lifting. And this isn’t a China-specific problem either; American boys are apparently just as dumb. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that 60% of all college students will be female by 2016 in the United States.
The Alleged Problems?
1. Males mature slower than females (for a Louis C.K primer on the differences between boys and girls, click here).
2. The current tests emphasize language abilities, including English and Chinese.
3. Preference for males leads to a spoiled child, says Sun Baohong, a researcher at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Sounds like it means the Little Emperors simply outnumber the Shanghai Princesses. Parents may finally realize that sending your 7-year old son to school with an iPad isn’t going to solve their educational woes as much as it teaches a lesson about overpriced hardware in the hands of your other poor investment.
The Alleged Solutions?
1. Give preference to boys while simultaneously lowering the bar for them. (Which is just as illegal in China as it is in the US.)
2. Make the boys take on extra responsibilities to organically develop their social skills, like becoming a class monitor.
3. Cater classes that play to the learning advantages of each sex.
An already overwhelmingly patriarchal society giving boys more power, conditioning stereotypical differences via a segregated curriculum (The only unisex course offered? Embracing Mediocrity 101), while espousing the same ideals as a Chinese NAACP…minus the women…and African-Americans. Genius!
And with the biggest understatement of the year, a mother of a 7-year old daughter weighs in: “Using different standards for boys and girls would be a sort of discrimination.”
So the next time you ask to be graded on a curve because of those pesky over-achieving Asians in the class, direct all your self-loathing at only the girls. After all, xenophobia and sexism are the PB&J of self-pity.