Acceptance for boys dropping out

r falch
In recent years, there have been several studies indicating that there is differential treatment of boys and girls in determining the outcome of achievement, Ranveig Falch says. These studies find that female teachers give better grades to girls than to boys for the same achievements.

26 September 2016 09:28

(updated: 26 September 2016 09:51)

Acceptance for boys dropping out

We hold men more accountable for their poor achievements, according to a new study from NHH. The pattern is the same as seen in international education research: Boys receive poorer grades than girls for the same achievements.

It is a fact that far more men than women are in managerial positions and have higher salaries than their female colleagues. At the same time, we know that boys drop out of  the educational system to a greater extent.

conserned

Very many are concerned about the school dropout rate, and the variations in the income of men, health and other measures of welfare – a phenomenon that is often referred to as the “boy crisis”.

In a new study at The Choice Lab, Ranveig Falch, Alexander W. Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden show that men are held accountable for their poor achievements to a greater extent than women are. "We do not support men when they do poorly. However, we do support women".

Ranveig Falch

Perhaps we do not help or reward boys in the same way as girls?

In a new study at The Choice Lab, Ranveig Falch, Alexander W. Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden show that men are held accountable for their poor achievements to a greater extent than women are.

do poorly

We do not support men when they do poorly. However, we do support women.

If one has a positive attitude about helping capable women through gender quotas, one will perhaps also be more positive towards supporting women who do poorly than men who do poorly, Ranveig Falch, a doctoral student at NHH contends.

“It is women and supporters of gender quotas who are responsible for the skewed distribution,” says Ranveig Falch. She presented the study at the Economic Science Association European Conference, which was recently hosted by The Choice Lab.

“The boy crisis”

The researchers think the findings are interesting in the debate on why young men are increasingly falling behind.

The study by the behavioural researchers at NHH is based on a laboratory experiment with a representative selection of several thousand persons from the USA. In the laboratory, decision-makers (observers) were tasked with distributing the income of two persons, who each had worked separately. The pairs were a woman and a man, or two persons of the same gender.

Payment

The participants were made aware that their choices would have genuine consequences: The persons who had performed a job were paid money. One worker received a wage of six dollars for working, while the other did not receive anything.

The observers in the experiment were then given the opportunity to redistribute the income between the two workers.

The participants were made aware that their choices would have genuine consequences: The persons who had performed a job were paid money. One worker received a wage of six dollars for working, while the other did not receive anything.

Ranveig Falch

They chose to treat men and women differently.

“When the reward is based on productivity, and the man in the pair produces less than the woman, men receive less money from the observers than the women do,” says Falch.

Gender quotas

So why did the men receive lower pay than the women?

Falch says that they find that there is a connection between being positive about gender quotas and distributing more to the losing women.

“Those who supported gender quotas, were also more apt to discriminate based on gender,” says Falch.

“If one has a positive attitude about helping capable women through gender quotas, one will perhaps also be more positive about supporting women who do poorly than men who do poorly,” she contends.

Better grades for girls

“If you want to promote women who do well more than you want to promote men who do well, you will end up discriminating between women and men,” says Falch.

In recent years, there have been several studies indicating that there is differential treatment of boys and girls in determining the outcome of achievements. Falch refers to findings by Cornwell, Mustard and Van Parys in 2013 in the USA, and Lavy in 2008 in Israel, who find that female teachers give better grades to girls than to boys for the same achievements.

The pattern resembles what we see in the field, for example, the results from the schools in the USA and Israel. It is difficult to say why this occurs, and whether it is a conscious or unconscious action. Nor is it easy to say, if it is a conscious act, or if it occurs because one wants to support the winner or punish the loser.

Only when based on merit

In the study, the researchers examine several factors to determine what characterises those who transferred more to the losing women.

“It is not the case that the participants generally favoured women over men, or that they thought the women needed the money more. It is only when the reward is based on productivity that we see a difference in distribution among the genders,” says Falch.

To find out whether the decision-makers thought the skills of the women were in general poorer than the skills of the men and they therefore favoured the women to a greater extent, they asked them how they thought that girls and boys had done relative to each other in a national mathematics test that was held recently.

Differing opinions

“We find no difference between how those who overestimate the skills of the boys, and those who do not, redistribute,” says Falch.

Another possibility is that the participants think that men and women have different perceptions of what is fair. It is thus then conceivable that the observers adapt to the perceptions of what is fair, and redistribute accordingly.

“However, if they believed that men and women thought differently, we would have seen a difference in redistribution between the groups with only men and those with only women. But we do not see that,” says Falch.

Positive about gender quotas

The researchers find therefore only two relevant factors that characterise the group that transfers more to the losing women: they are women themselves, and they are positive about gender quotas.

The researchers find therefore only two relevant factors that characterise the group that transfers more to the losing women: they are women themselves, and they are positive about gender quotas.

Ranveig Falch

When they test these two factors against each other, it is the latter that remains.

“We therefore find significant discrimination of men who drop out, even in a controlled experiment with a representative group of the US population. We believe that this can shed some light on ‘the boy crisis’ and why men drop out in several important areas,” Falch concludes.

Text: Bendik Støren

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