Boys Left Behind

Gender Role Changes in Alaska

in Boyhood Studies
Restricted access

The gender gap in college enrollment and completion has become a concern in many nations. The phenomenon is extreme in Alaska, particularly among indigenous people. Semi-structured interviews with 162 urban and indigenous students graduating from high school, and in addition, two single-gender focus groups, suggest that many young men do not see a college education as necessary to financial success and do not expect to assume the gender role of sole family provider. Young women tend to see a college degree as essential to changed gender roles where women are expected to attend college, pursue a career, and not be dependent on a man for financial support. Many young men withdraw from the demands of a verbally-saturated high school curriculum, which they find unenjoyable. Both young men and young women tend to label male withdrawal from school as “male laziness,” an essentialist interpretation rather than an interpretation based on the school environment and changing gender roles.