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The age-old debate: boys vs. girls

For many years, it has been the stereotype that males were prone to excel in high school and essentially be more intelligent than girls. However, after conducting a bit of research, I found this stereotype to be inaccurate.

I gathered information from three high schools in the Southtowns. I asked each high school -- Frontier, West Seneca West and Hamburg -- for the girl-to-boy ratio of the top 10 students for the least five years. Here are the numbers:


2006-07 : 7 females, 3 males / 8 females, 2 males / 7 females, 3 males

2007-08 : 9 females, 1 male / 10 females, 0 male / 6 females, 4 males

2008-09 : 6 females, 4 males / 6 females, 4 males / 9 females, 1 male

2009-10 : 8 females, 2 males / 10 females, 0 male / 6 females, 4 males

2010-11 : 9 females, 1 male / 8 females, 2 males / 8 females, 2 males

Once I collected and confirmed the data, my curiosity still lingered: Why are these statistics like this? Why is there such a significant gap between females and males in high school?

I asked students throughout my school, including students who are at the higher end of class rank what their feelings are about this.

Frontier senior Melissa Otremba said, "It is a proven fact that guys are not exactly as mature as females are. There are statistics that tell how guys do not fully mature until college."

"As a student athlete, I know that when I commit to a sport, I definitely commit," said Brad Huff, a senior at Frontier. "I am not saying I completely forget about school work, but guys have a tendency to put sports before homework. It is more difficult for them to find a balance."

I decided to ask other educators at my school about their theories.

"Females are better with planning and understanding the repercussions and consequences of their actions," said Jeanne Pierno, a ninth-grade English teacher. "They are capable of saying, 'I need to start doing this now, so I can get into that college, or get that future job.' "

"Females have the tendency to be more equipped to handle adversity and challenges," said Teresa Miranda-Braden, an economics teacher at Frontier. "If something does not work out one way, they can adapt, where guys essentially give up.'

I decided that it would be best to get an expert's opinion on the subject.

Peg Tyre is an education journalist who wrote and published "The Trouble With Boys." The book is about why boys seem to be trailing girls academically.

"There have been changes in our schools -- and in our society -- that have made school less friendly to boys," Tyre said. "Some of them are obvious -- many schools have cut back recess -- which is having a terrible effect on a lot of kids and many of them are boys. Some of them are subtle. It turns out, there are studies that show that the way teachers teach reading can disadvantage boys.

"There are also some big cultural shifts going on. ... It used to be that if a boy did poorly in school, he'd take a job in manufacturing or in construction, where he could earn a good enough salary to support himself and maybe a family. Those sectors are eroding quickly. A college degree has become a prerequisite to the middle class -- and many boys just aren't making it. "

She goes on to explain that the problems with boys can be reversed.

"The first thing we need to do is begin to talk about the problem," she said. "When it comes to taking action, we need to move carefully, but we need to move. Poor boys and boys of color are really struggling right now. And they are going to need some dramatic help to get them back on track. When it comes to middle-class boys, we can help them by changing some things about the classroom -- allow for more physical movement, more recess, more hands-on activity, boys-friendly reading instruction. Boy-friendly books. Writing teachers who understand and celebrate the way boys write and think. We need teachers and administrators that encourage boys to stay engaged in learning."


Kiara Catanzaro is a senior at Frontier High School.

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