Richard Reeves lectures “Of Boys and Men” at BYU Wheatley Institute

Richard Reeves delivers the keynote address at Wheatly’s annual roundtable on family. (Derek Van Buskirk)

Richard Reeves delivered a keynote address for Wheatly’s annual Family Roundtable on Resolving the “Boys and Men Crisis” on Nov. 1.

Reeves, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brooklyn Institution, recently published “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It.”

Reeves explained why he wrote the book and said the issue was important to him because he is a father of three boys and they would discuss these issues a lot. After further research, Reeves said he learned things were worse than he thought, especially among men of color and working-class men.

Reeves suggested that “boys and men’s problems are generally characterized as a problem with boys and men”.

Reeves also said it’s a problem on both sides of the political divide and that conservatives might say men just aren’t masculine enough, while the left might suggest men are too masculine to the point where it’s ‘is toxic.

Reeves also said he thinks the focus on individual responsibility distracts from the policy changes he believes need to be implemented. “To be clear, I’m a big believer in individual responsibility, but we need to be honest about the structural constraints people face,” he said.

Throughout his speech, Reeves touched on three different topics: (1) education, (2) the job market, and (3) family life and shared charts and statistics that showed the direction of the progress for men and women over time.

Reeves showed trends in the gender gap in 4-year degree acquisition beginning in 1971, a year before Title IX was passed. At the time, men were 13% more likely to complete a 4-year degree than women.

Now, a woman is 15% more likely to get a 4-year degree than a man. “Gender inequality in American higher education is greater today than it was in 1972, when Title IX was passed,” he said. “It’s just the reverse.”

Richard Reeves demonstrates the change in the gender gap between men and women by receiving a 4-year degree. (Derek Van Buskirk)

Reeves also mentioned the long-standing trends of men performing lower than women in the high school GPA, the lack of male teachers in early education, and how teenage adolescence affects boys and girls differently.

Although there has been a push for women to enter STEM careers, Reeves said there has not been an equal push for men to join what he describes as HEAL jobs. , careers focused on health, education, administration and literacy.

While Reeves said the women’s rights movement had done a fantastic job of achieving its goal of making women financially independent enough to make marriage a choice, he said: “It had profound consequences, at least for men. And it is our responsibility, even when there are positive social changes, to take second-round effects on other groups seriously.

Reeves advised delaying school entry for boys by a year, adding 1,000 new technical high schools and a million more apprenticeship places, a massive recruiting campaign for male teachers, grants for men entering training and HEAL jobs, paid self-employment leave for fathers and mothers and more legal rights for single fathers.

BYU freshman Joey Tolman said he came to the keynote after seeing it on BYU’s events page. “I thought it was just interesting,” he said of the conference. “I hadn’t thought of that before.”

New mother Marissa Smith was also present. “I went back and forth between ‘should I work or stay home’ because I graduated in August,” she said. “I used to work, but now it pushes me to stay home until he starts kindergarten.”

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Angela C. Hale