Sex education

by | Oct 4, 2012 | education, gender

Gender inequality, with regards to high school graduation rates, has not been this pronounced since pre WWII days.
According to Census 2011 data, boys born prior to 1959 were more likely to finish high school than girls, but the reverse has been the case from that year onwards.  The gap continued to increase for 20 years before steadying.  However, after a small bump in recent years the gap between the graduation rates mirrors the levels seen in the mid 1930s, with girls out-graduating boys by 10 percentage points*.
But let’s not get caught in the detail. The greater story is the educational revolution which has occurred over the past 80 years, in Australia and around the world.  While less than 20% of the community finished high school a mere 2 or 3 generations ago (less than 1 in 7 for girls), around 75% of today’s kids do so.   
Graph stops in 1992 as those born since have not had an equal opportunity to graduate yet.
Unfortunately, we seem to have plateaued. The fast growth in graduation experienced between those born in 1915 to those born in 1975 has come to a complete halt. The last 17 years have shown no significant movement, with those born in 1975 being just as likely to graduate as those born in the 90s.  Have we peaked? Or is this purely a revolutionary intermission?
And is 75% enough?
A similar halt to action occurred for boys born between 1955 and 1966, where for a period of over 10 years the rates of graduation did not improve.  That time, however, the effect was only felt by boys, while in the same period girls improved by 12 percentage points.  What was it about the 1970s that didn’t encourage boys to improve their likelihood to graduate from school?  I have no idea, if anyone does, please let me know!
This story is not meant to suggest boys are hard done by, but rather to promote the overall improvements in access to education, in particular with regards to gender equality. To highlight one of the many improvements achieved in an impressive time frame  As well as to highlight that it was not so long ago that many of the things many take for granted nowadays were only afforded to a very privileged few.
* While girls’ graduation rates are currently 10% points higher than boys’, the same 10 points back in the 1930s (because of the small overall graduation rates) meant  boys were almost twice as likely to graduate as girls… oils ain’t oils.

All data presented in this post was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Census: