FAILING AT FAIRNESS by Myra Sadker

FAILING AT FAIRNESS

How America's Schools Cheat Girls

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A telling investigation by the Sadkers (Education/American University) of why girls metamorphose from intellectually eager first-graders into socially compliant high-school and college students who score 60 points below their male peers on SATs and achievement tests. As a result of usually--but not always--unconscious gender bias, it seems that neither girls nor boys receive their educational due. The Sadkers have been examining gender equity in the classroom for some 30 years and--with the help of some refined observation techniques--have been able to track the behavior that sends girls' self-esteem plummeting. Classroom videos reveal teachers--even those who consider themselves sensitive to issues of gender--praising, challenging, and paying attention to boys far more than to girls. Boys excel in showmanship, waving hands wildly to get attention; girls retreat, becoming quieter, learning to hide intelligence and scholarly skills in order to be popular. Meanwhile, textbooks and standard visual displays--even those revised in the light of feminist pressure--show few if any role models for girls. Interviews with students uncover that boys would literally rather die than be girls, while girls find boys' lives attractive in many ways. Sexual harassment also becomes an issue in high school and college, when girls find they often have no recourse when they are touched, grabbed, or called ``bitches'' by male classmates. The authors include a sympathetic chapter on the pressures boys feel growing up in a world where women are creating new lives, and where men are resentfully reliving the old roles (``Today's school boys are learning lines from a play that is closing''). Powerful evidence that girls give up their intellectual potential as gender bias is perpetuated in the classroom. (Charts; illustrations--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1994
ISBN: 0-684-19541-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993