Thacker 1Stetson ThackerProfessor James DavisEnglish 400: Fictions of Troubled MasculinityDecember 18, 2013The Political Rhetoric of the Gender Gap in Education: A Boy CrisisIt is hard to find a more surprisingly politically charged debate than the gender gap in education, often termed the “boy crisis.” How does the education of the future leaders of our nation become saturated by the vitriol and hidden agendas of our contemporary political discourse? It should be obvious that the socially desirable outcome is to provide great and equitable education to every American regardless of gender or any other variable of identity. It is also evident that in order to provide great and equitable education, educational problems like the gender gap must be addressed by our nation’s leaders, educators, and parents regardless of their political beliefs. However, a quick Google search results in an onslaught of articles, books, news,and websites that investigate, debate, lament, and sometimes deny the gender gap in education. This rapidly expanding body of rhetoric has divided itself into two camps: conservative and liberal. The cultural narratives constructed by writers from both sides of the divide aim to achieve certain political ends; they hope to shape legislative changes and alter pedagogical practices to suit their political ideologies. I classified the rhetoric that I examined into conservative or liberal categories based where the policy and pedagogical recommendations of the writers aligned with a certain political party’s agenda or associated beliefs; however, it is important to note that the political classification of the recommendations of a certain writers do not necessarily match the political ideologies of that writer. I politically categorize the rhetoric ofthe gender gap to examine and illustrate how the issue has become politicized.
Thacker 2I am interested in dissecting these cultural narratives concerning the gender gap in order to illustrate the connection between a writer’s ideologies and his or her implied or explicit recommendations to resolve the gender gap in the educational system. There are two possibilitieshere: the writer’s thoughts on gender affect their recommendations or the writer’s political beliefs affect their depiction of gender in order to suit their recommendations. These two possibilities may also synergize or antagonize each other within the minds of certain writers. Whichever the motivating force is for these social and political commentators, I believe that the discourse concerning the gender gap in education is truly a political debate about gender itself. Subsequently, these commentators’ recommendations are largely influenced by how they conceive of the gender formation process. In general, beliefs that gender is mostly a byproduct ofbiology result in conservative recommendations, while beliefs that gender is mostly a product of social conditioning result in liberal recommendations. Thus, the cultural thinkers have boiled the