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Why Are Boys and Men Struggling and What Do We Do About It? Richard Reeves

Festival of Ideas
richard reeves credit brookings institution

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Richard Reeves uses evidence-based research and personal experience of bringing up three boys to look at where boys and men are falling behind and the solutions and new ideas needed.

Boys are 50 per cent more likely than girls to fail at all three key school subjects: maths, reading and science. In the US, the wages of most men are lower today than they were in 1979, while women’s wages have risen across the board. In the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

Boys are falling behind at school and college because the educational system is structured in ways that put them at a disadvantage. Men are struggling in the labour market because of an economic shift away from traditionally male jobs. And fathers are dislocated because the cultural role of family provider has been hollowed out.

The male malaise is not the result of a mass psychological breakdown, but of deep structural challenges. Feminism has done a huge amount of good in the world and the work continues. Reeves argues that we now need its corollary – a positive vision of masculinity that is compatible with gender equality to create better societies.

In this interview with Andrew Kelly of Bristol Ideas, Reeves discusses, amongst other issues, the multiple crises boys and men face; the decline of the traditional male breadwinning role and what this means; differing gender achievement gaps at all levels of education; and the importance of dads. They talk about why boys should start later at school; the need for more male teachers; why there is a huge opportunity for men in HEAL work (health, education, administration and literacy); and greater levels of flexible paid maternity leave for fathers and mothers.  

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Richard Reeves’ Of Boys and Men is published by Swift Press. Buy a copy online from our partners Waterstones.

richard reeves credit brookings institution

Richard V. Reeves is Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, in Washington D.C. A transplanted Brit, his former roles include Director of Strategy to the Deputy Prime Minister, and Director of the think-tank Demos. In 2017, Politico magazine named Richard one of the top 50 thinkers in the U.S. for his work on class and inequality. His book, Dream Hoarders, was a ‘Book of the Year’ in The Economist and the Observer, and he is also the author of John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand, which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize.

Image credit: Brookings Institution

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