Wrong Answer: The Wall Street Journal On England`s Math Gender Gap

Here at VDARE.com, we must
frequently stomp on stupidities found on the

Wall Street Journal`s
Editorial Page.
 The WSJ`s news
staff famously despises the Editorial Page. But that
doesn`t mean the news reporters can`t be as silly as the
opinion-mongers.

Page One of the March 30th WSJ
featured an article by reporters Jeanne Whalen
[email
her
]
and Sharon Begley
[email her]
called "Improved
Formula: In England, Girls Are Closing Gap With Boys in
Math
."
It saluted the alleged disappearance of
the gender gap in average math test scores in England,
claiming:

"The
English record goes against theories that boys are
innately destined to dominate math and science — a view
that caused a firestorm after recent remarks by Harvard
University President

Lawrence H. Summers
. In discussing the preponderance
of men in elite university science and engineering
positions, Mr. Summers said `issues
of intrinsic aptitude
` might explain why more males
than females score at the highest levels on measures of
mathematical and scientific ability."

I can see three major problems with
all this.

  • First of all, Summers was not
    talking about the sexes` average scores, which is what
    Whalen and Begley`s article seems to be about. He was
    talking about the

    extreme right tail

    of the

    bell curve
    , which is where

    Harvard professors
    are drawn from. In his
    extemporized speech, Summers pointed out:

"… if
one is talking about

physicists
at a top twenty-five research university,
one is not talking about people who are two standard
deviations above the mean.
[In a normal bell curve,
only one out of 44 individuals is that much above
average.] And perhaps it`s not even talking about
somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean
[or one out of 741]. But it`s talking about
people who are three and a half [one out of 4,299], four
standard deviations above the mean
[one in 31,574]
…"

The greater variance among male
scores means, as Summers

noted
, "You get five to one [males per
female], at the high end." This is simply a fact.

  • Second, as my VDARE.COM colleague

    Howard Sutherland
    has suggested to me, it`s not at
    all clear that England`s introduction of the more
    girl-oriented math teaching methods extolled in the
    WSJ
    article actually improved the girls`
    performance—because the tests were changed radically
    to make girls score higher. Whalen and Begley
    eventually admit:

“Many
math teachers in England attribute girls` rising scores
to the changes in exam content, a view some scientists
support.”

For example:

“Math
exams in England also now give students partial credit
for

showing their work,
even if they ultimately reach
the wrong answer.
[My emphasis] This gives an
advantage to girls, who are typically more methodical in
writing out the problem step-by-step, educators say.”

  • Third, toward the end, the WSJ
    writers admit one little negative amidst all the
    wonderfulness of making girls equal to boys: After all
    these feminist reforms in math teaching, students
    overall are now less interested in math:


“Despite gains for girls in math, problems remain. Over
the past decade, the number of students age 16 and up
opting to take A-Level [advanced] math courses after
they finish the mandatory curriculum has been declining.
And fewer students overall are studying math in
college.”

In other words, the math gender gap
has closed largely by English boys becoming more
ignorant.

What Whalen and Begley don`t
mention is that in recent decades, millions of Britain`s
young males have adopted a philosophy of "laddism."
Being "one of the lads" is proven by one`s
dedication to cutting school, machismo, brawling,
drunkenness, soccer hooliganism, anti-intellectualism,
and

property crime
. The lads of

Britain
have been increasingly turning against

schoolwork
and honest jobs, with disastrous effects
on society as a whole—as seen in the sky-high property
crime rates in what used to be one of the

world`s most law-abiding societies.

This is a significant omission,
because way back in 2000, the BBC

inquired
into the same phenomenon as Whalen and
Begley … and came to very different conclusions:


“Britain`s academics are asking why girls now outperform
boys at A-Level. Their conclusion? The UK`s
anti-intellectual `lad culture` and our, now notorious,
lads` mags…

“Two
British academics have blamed a culture of `laddism`
where successful male students are `geeks;` and a
cultivated indifference to intellectual pursuits is as
de rigueur as having a

mobile phone.

“Tony
Sewell, a lecturer in education at Leeds University says
a

`black youth culture`
which prizes

trainers
[athletic
shoes
]
and CDs over exam grades has
now captured the imaginations of boys across the board.

“Dr
Mary James of Cambridge University says such a climate
is being stoked by so-called `lad
mags
,` which in the absence of other male role
models help define the teenage understanding of
`masculinity.`”

The brilliant British comic

Sacha Baron-Cohen
famously parodies white and
Pakistani youths` infatuation with black American
gangsta rappers with his character

Ali G,
a canary yellow sweatsuit and gold
chain-wearing idiot.

Britain`s

crime rate
is now substantially worse than that of
the U.S. For example, the

2000 International Crime Victimization Survey

reported that for every 100 people, there were

55 crimes
committed in Britain compared to 40 in the
U.S.

Immigrants, especially

West Indians,
have contributed heavily to this
inglorious record. But the most important cause has been
a moral collapse among Britain`s white working class
males—who in the first half of the 20th Century were

famous for their honesty
. The British prison
psychiatrist who writes under the nom de plume

Theodore Dalrymple
has vividly described the decay
of the working class in his book

Life at the Bottom.

Not surprisingly, the massive
government effort to feminize math classes praised by
the WSJ women appears to have made the lads even
less inclined to study math.

It`s a reflection of how messed up
feminists` priorities are that Whalen and Begley salute
this latest triumph of "laddism" as a victory for
women.

Those poor English schoolgirls,
whatever their math scores, are going to have to live
the rest of their lives with those

dumbed-down
English lads.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]