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Explaining the Gulf
According to Kevin A. Hassett in his April 22 column, a “gulf has emerged” between the academic achievements of boys and girls — women now earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees, for example — and “new clues” explain the roots of these differences. A graph plots the differences of time spent on children’s cognitive activities (number of books a child owns, attendance at story hours, and visits to the library).

But of the six comparisons, the greatest difference has to do with library visits among two-year-olds. About 30 percent of girls visited a library in the past month, as compared with 24 percent of boys — a six-percentage-point difference, as compared with the roughly 20-point gaps in degree-earning. How such a small difference can produce an “achievement gulf” is not clear — and at any rate, girls mature faster than boys, so such a difference among young children is hardly surprising.

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