[EDEQUITY Equity Now] Myths and realities of gender equity

From: Craig Flood (CFlood@aol.com)
Date: Wed May 29 2002 - 14:15:11 EDT

Late last week I received an email from a man on the list critical of my
discussion about addressing the concerns of boys within the context of
equity. While I am unable to share the entire email, I wanted to share my
response to several of the points he was making. It feels important to do
because his concerns reflect many of the persistent misperceptions and
inaccuracies about these issues from the critics of gender equity. I will
paraphrase his statements within brackets followed by my response.

>>The author contended that "much of the driving force behind the concept
'gender equity' as it is publicly received, originated from the AAUW
and the resulting federal funding."<<

There was far more time and effort involved in the work of gender equity
before the AAUW "study," which, in truth, was really a review of a large
of research. To the best of my knowledge, we have not benefited from any
increase in Federal funding as a result. If anything, the opposite has been

true in the years subsequent to that report.

>>The author felt that my (and other gender equity advocates) "biggest
concern appears to be that the 'concern about the boys' not interfere" with

our work on behalf of girls and that we insulate ourselves from criticism
"gently sliding in a few comments (about boys) here and there." Finally he

was quite disturbed with his perception that we "are 'now' proposing...(to)

be entrusted to speak to the problems that boys face."<<

Now? For 20 years many of my colleagues and I have been doing anything but

what you suggest here. Concerns about boys and, moreover, support for
achievement and healthy development, have been far more than parenthetical
the gender equity work with which we have been involved. In New York State

alone we worked with thousands of teachers and hundreds of school districts

around a concept of gender equity that mutually supported the needs of
and boys in schools. Program evaluations consistently revealed
for such a perspective on gender equity.

I recently saw a middle school teacher who had been involved in a "Men
Helping Boys with Choices" project I had implemented in the mid-90's. He
shared that his experience with that project had been one of the most
significant in all of his years teaching. More to the point, he spoke
powerfully about the lasting impact the program had on the boys he worked
with in that school. If you'd like, I can point to more examples of this
kind of work on behalf of boys from within the gender equity community.

>>Finally he made the statement that, "Boys are fleeing the authoritarian
overregulation of the schools, sensing that they are viewed as a form of
societal pariah. Now where would they get that message?" The suggestion
comes from the same conceptual frame that grounded Sommers', "The War
Boys." Namely, that gender equity, by way of its attention to the needs of
girls, was largely responsible for the problems that boys were experiencing

in schools.<<

I am not quite sure what you are referring to here, but I can assure you
whatever "fleeing" is taking place is not the result of the tidal wave of
gender equity that has presumably swept over the nation's schools. I am,
however, aware of specific instances of administrative and institutional
indifference as factors in pushing particular groups of boys out of
Certainly, the research on "zero tolerance" reflect the less than effective

results of "authoritarian overregulation" you refer to here. Contrary to
what you suggest, the gender equity work with which I am most familiar has,

at its heart, the development of thoughtful and caring responses to the
factors "deal out" both boys and girls in schools.

Finally, as the father of a son and two daughters, and colleague of
innumerable mothers and fathers of boys and girls, the suggestion that we
promote the view of boys as a "societal pariah" has a hollow ring. While I
realize your point is meant more to offend than to meaningfully discuss the

issues you raise, it is the lack of substance beyond the hyperbole that
leaves it so empty. However, what is truly offensive is that fact that
critics of gender equity have only "now" picked up on the long-standing and

"alarming" statistics about boys. Their use by you and others in such
politically divisive ways only reflects the uncaring and indifferent
attitudes that have long prevailed about the boys primarily represented in
those statistics...boys of minority and low SES backgrounds.

Craig P. Flood, Ed.D.

CFlood Associates
P.O. Box 2174
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Email: cflood@aol.com

"Caring schools are safe schools."

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Wed May 29 2002 - 14:16:19 EDT