Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.
For this post, I wanted to talk about a very familiar topic heard in the educational and academic discourse: the education gender gap. Oftentimes we know about heavy hitting issues like these but every once in a while it is good to bring it into tangible terms that matter to us. It is a pervasive phenomenon that affects education at all levels including secondary and post-secondary. Counselors and students see it in their classrooms while admissions officers see it in their applicant pools. Researchers over the years have grappled with this phenomenon extensively. According to a March 2014 Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the gap is leaving men in the dust. “By 2012, the share of young women enrolled in college immediately after high school had increased to 71%, but it remained unchanged for young men at 61%.” Nationally this has serious implications for the makeup of the workforce, crime rates and not to mention getting society to face the word “inequity” as it relates to men. This occurrence is happening throughout the IB as well. The May 2013 Statistical Bulletin which provides statistics from last year IB exams confirmed this national trend. I think in both cases, nationally and in the IB global context, the struggle educators face is how to make education alluring to students in general.
When it comes to the IB, many counselors and coordinators echo the sentiment that students feel they are not able to meet the demands of the IB program. So now we are exploring realistic ways to motivate students to participate and persist in the IB program. A good starting place would be to reexamine existing structures and see how they can be strengthened. Let’s look at CAS hours for example. CAS allows students to engage in a wide range of activities that involve creative thinking, action for a healthy lifestyle and service to their community and society. Students who are active in CAS have a significant advantage. They have documentation on a variety of activities that exemplify aspects of the IB Learner profile- these students are indeed caring, reflective and risk takers! This is an ideal medium for young men to convey their risk-taking abilities in a productive context. Check out our sister IB Community Blog to learn about the innovative ways students are getting their hours in the Philippines! Encourage your students to look for these qualities within themselves. There are so many unique opportunities that both men and women would equally enjoy. In the competitive world of college admissions, this can certainly be an influential factor and help bring back the gender balance that university admissions officers desire.