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Gender Studies Aim to Improve Quality of Life

According to Glenn Sacks (“Boys or Girls -- Pick Your Victim,” Opinion, March 20), there is a credibility gap between what Duke University’s researchers report and what the university’s office of news and communications says it found. So, why? In my view, the answer can be found in a quick search of the Duke University website.

A search for women’s studies yielded 5,330 hits and clear evidence of a well-established women’s studies program. A search for men’s studies yielded 1,380 hits with the first item referring to a women’s studies course and no evidence of a well-established men’s studies program. In my view, the most credible solution is to remedy this gender inequality by establishing men’s studies programs and enforce gender equality by amending Title IX (established to correct gender inequality in sports) to require universities with women’s studies programs also to have equivalent men’s studies programs.

As checks and balances have served our nation well, so too can they serve well intellectual inquiry.

Gordon E. Finley

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Professor of Psychology

Florida International

University, Miami

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Sacks’ commentary contains some fundamental misperceptions about our study on quality-of-life differences between boys and girls. Clearly, anyone with an agenda to promote -- whether it’s “pro-boy” or “pro-girl” -- can cherry-pick the data to support his arguments. Our study provided a comprehensive, objective picture on changes in the lives of boys and girls over time. We found that overall quality of life has improved substantially for boys and girls since 1985, and that, across the board, differences between the genders are narrowing and trending in the same directions.

That’s not to say there are no differences whatsoever. As Sacks observed, education remains an area where some significant gaps remain.

But the point is not about “picking your victim,” or boys versus girls. The point is: What can we do to improve the lives of boys and girls over time? We hope our study can help inform the answer to that question.

Kenneth C. Land

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Professor of Demographic

Studies and Sociology

Sarah O. Meadows

PhD Candidate, Sociology

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Duke University

Durham, N.C.


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