On this International Women’s Day I’d like to be just a bit provocative and suggest that we start paying a little more attention to boys. Boys are getting lost in today’s life and we don’t really understand why. A recent study finds that boys’ behaviour costs them dearly in school marks (our next PISA in Focus,
due out on 14 March, has a few other interesting things to say about
how teachers award marks to girls and boys); and a school in Shanghai,
China – which was the best-performing school system in the 2009 PISA survey – has just introduced boys-only classes in
an effort to turn around the decline in boys’ performance in university
entrance exams. (I was interested to read that some of the boys
interviewed said that they felt shy answering teachers’ questions in
front of girls. Didn’t many girls used to say that the presence of boys
made them reluctant to participate in class?)
We have done a lot for girls, and we see the positive results of this in everyday life. Girls are, on average, doing better in school than boys, and more women now graduate from university-level education than men. Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement: just look at the salaries of women versus those of men. And I am irritated when I attend board meetings in the private sector and note that women are still a minority.
So we must not look at the great strides girls and women have made in recent decades and think that the battle is won. But I would also add: We don’t gain much if we gain on one side and lose on the other.
Am I focusing too much on boys on what is supposed to be the day we celebrate the girls and women of the world? I don’t think so. It’s all about empowerment: having equal opportunities to realise our individual potential. And that is something that should not be gender-specific"
Dr. Barbara Ischinger
She took up the post of Director for Education and Skills for the OECD on 1 January 2006. She has held a range of senior international positions for almost 20 years in the fields of international co-operation and education, with a focus on Europe, the United States and Africa.
Before joining the OECD, Dr. Ischinger was Executive Vice-President for International Affairs and Public Relations at Berlin Humboldt Universität (2000-2005).
Between 1992-1994, she was a Director at UNESCO heading the Division of International Cultural Co-operation, Presentation and Enrichment of Cultural Identities. From 1994 to 2000, she was Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States and Germany.
In her present capacity, Dr Ischinger is responsible for the Directorate for Education and Skills which helps member countries to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of their educational systems. The work is mostly done through the Education Policy Committee in charge of the reviews of country educational systems and the development of international indicators (Education at a Glance) and through the Center for Educational Research and Innovation. The Directorate leads the horizontal OECD Skills Strategy, analyses national education and skills policies and develops comparative assessments of learning outcomes at the school level (PISA), at the university level (AHELO) and at the adult level through the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).