Books for Boys

I’m going to write a disclaimer for fear I’m accused of man bashing! I have always, and still do, advocate for gender balance in all areas of business, education, public and private life. Balance is best! If the Dail were 141 women to 25 men, I would campaign for more men. But it’s not…

So onto the actual topic of my post – the new national plan for Literacy & Numeracy which is available on the Dept of Education website to download (

I was reading reviewing the plan for work the other day, nodding in some parts, despairing in others and I came across some references to making reading books in schools more appropriate to boys. There is no explicit gender analysis of literacy or interventions in the strategy yet between pages 49 and 56 there are 4 distinct references to boys and their reading needs.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that we shouldn’t address the issue of the widening gender gap in education, it just seems bizarre to me, that it would be done in this random way. If we’re going to have a gender analysis, then let’s have one, not minute recommendations pertaining to boys that have no explicit (in this document anyway) link to published research. Is it really the reading materials that are causing the problem? I finding myself highly doubting that. I’m more inclined to think how we socialise young boys and girls has more of a role and many books are written on this topic. The general gist being girls are encouraged to sit quietly and read books, while boys are encouraged to be rowdy and play tough. (I’m simplifying and paraphrasing here but you get what I mean).

What also crosses my mind is the cynical thought that when women were not allowed go to college, it was because they were assumed to be too stupid, not capable enough. Yet now when men are doing badly, the system is obviously wrong and it needs to be changed. For example, when women started to outnumber men in first year medicine, the HPAT was introduced which righted the balance. I guess, I just find the whole thing unusual….




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