Commentary

Uvalde and the Social Neglect of Boys

By Edward E. Bartlett | May 31, 2022 | 12:23pm EDT
A woman cries at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex. (Photo credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman cries at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex. (Photo credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

On May 24, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos did the unthinkable: He shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex. Such incidents did not happen a generation ago. Persons who have aspirations, dreams, and social ties don’t engage in random killings of school children.

So what has happened in our culture that teenage boys have been marginalized to the point of losing their vision of a better future? When I look at the listing of student clubs at my local high school, I see Young Women in Engineering, Chicas Poderosas (“Powerful Girls”), and several clubs for LGBT students, African-Americans, and Muslims.

But nothing for boys.

Which points to the much broader problem that is referred to as the “Boy Crisis.” This term captures the undeniable fact that males are lagging in virtually every arena of society. In college, for example, 59.5% of students are women, while only 40.5% are men. In health care, the Department of Health and Human Services, where I used to work, sponsors multiple separate offices of women’s health.

And no offices of men’s health.

So why hasn’t anyone sounded the alarm? Much of the problem can be traced to the feminist movement that has spawned a pervasive “female-as-victim” narrative. This narrative neutralizes virtually every attempt to draw attention to the plight of boys and men.

Given the fact that women now enjoy full equality in the eyes of the law, the only way to maintain the oppression narrative is to manufacture an ongoing series of bogus gender crises. I could give many examples; here’s one….

For years, feminists have nurtured the “women-in-STEM” myth – STEM referring to “science, technology, engineering, and math.” As the American Association of University Women darkly warns -- without evidence -- “Girls and women are systematically tracked away from science and math.” 

Two facts reveal why the women-in-STEM “crisis” is an utter fabrication:

1. In the award of bachelor’s degrees for All Sciences, women have surpassed men, with females now receiving over 55% of all science degrees. In the Biological Sciences, 63% of students receiving a bachelor’s degree are female, according to the National Science Foundation (Table 5-1).

2. The larger percentage of male students – 67% -- in mathematics and computer sciences does not signify discrimination against women any more than 63% of biology students being female proves discrimination against male students.

News Flash: Men and women have distinct personality traits. The Scientific American has summarized the research:

  1. “On average, males tend to be more dominant, assertive, risk-prone, thrill-seeking, tough-minded, emotionally stable, utilitarian, and open to abstract ideas.”
  2. In contrast, “females, on average, tend to be more sociable, sensitive, warm, compassionate, polite, anxious, self-doubting, and more open to aesthetics.”

Such personality differences help explain why the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that manufacturing workers are 71% male, while department store workers are 76% female.

(Oddly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has removed the “Men” column from its table, forcing readers to subtract the “Women” numbers from 100% to calculate the male figure. Apparently the BLS believes the percentage of males in the workforce doesn’t matter anymore.)

But facts are seldom a hindrance to the narrative-mongers. In the STEM area, the worst enabler of the STEM gender myth is the Henry Luce Foundation, based in New York City.

Conveniently ignoring the fact that women now represent 55% of all undergraduate science degree recipients, the Foundation’s website boasts that its Clare Boothe Luce Program is “the most significant private funder of women in STEM in higher education in the United States,” having awarded $217 million in grants to support 2,955 women since 1985.

And zero men.

And then there’s the sticky matter of the law. The federal Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” (bolding added)

One of the Foundation’s most recent round of 21 grants was awarded to Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. The college’s website states:

“For the third time in Stonehill College’s history, we are a proud recipient of a scholarship grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Scholarship Program to encourage women ‘to enter, study, graduate, and teach’ in scientific fields where there have been obstacles to their advancement. Stonehill received a CBL grant in 2002 for $101,244 grant and in 2013 for $300,000 grant. Our current grant, totaling $199,176, will fund four scholarships to two female students entering their junior years.”

Does that sound a little discriminatory? And why hasn’t the federal Office for Civil Rights, charged with enforcing the Title IX law, taken action?

The Henry Luce Foundation needs to stop pushing hoary gender myths about the “under-representation” of women in STEM, and open its scholarship program to all students.

And stop ignoring the very existence of males -- this is how to bring disaffected teenage boys back in to the fold.

Edward E. Bartlett is a former university professor, and worked for 17 years for the Department of Health and Human Services.

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