The first essay I read was Judith Kleinfeld’s, “No Map to Manhood”. Although I thought that the topic of her essay was interesting, and a bit surprising I have to admit, I did not really like her essay after one page had maybe 20 statistics on it. I felt as if in the beginning Kleinfeld uses a lot of statistics that are distracting, and hard to really take in since she uses so many of them. Her stats definitely offer good evidence that the gap is real, although in some cases it was a 55%-45% difference, which seems very close to me. I don’t feel as if she offered a good counterargument, or a strong solution to the problem. She basically states, “Women are doing well in school, this is why. Men are doing poorly and aren’t as motivated, this is why.”
Two statements from her essay actually made me judge her credibility as a writer on this subject. On the subject of men’s participation she wrote, “perhaps they did not wish to reveal to themselves, as well as to the interviewer, how confused and insecure they were…. The lack of reasonable plans among senior boys at the end of the school year indicates a serious failing on the part of the school and its guidance counselors” (176). I thought that this was very bold in assuming that the boys were simply “confused” and “insecure”. It’s accusatory and demeaning, not to mention presumptuous, seeing as how Kleinfeld did not ask the boys in particular why they chose not to participate. In addition when she states that there is a “serious failing” of the school, it is also very accusatory. She fails to further analyze her statement of this, or propose a solution. After this part in her paper I lost a bit of faith in her argument because she seemed so completely biased against men and in favor of women.
In addition she states, “when asked why they had chosen a particular occupation, for example, 46% of the young women gave as a reason the desire ‘to help people’ or ‘to make the world a better place'” (177), which I thought sounded so cliché, I wondered if they were given a list of answers to choose from.
On the other hand, Karnasiewicz’s essay seems much more formal and engaging to me. I enjoyed the incorporation of quotes into the essay, rather than feeling as if I was being bombarded by statistics. I also felt that this essay wasn’t so “pro men” or “pro women” as the previous essay had so blatantly been. This essay actually takes a different approach I feel. The topic of the gender gap is the same, but where Kleinfeld placed an emphasis on how boys are lazy, Karnasiewicz describes how, “Laura Bush launched a federal initiative focused on boys who have been neglected by their schools and communities” (1), which shows that Karnasiewicz beliefs the gap is due to something bigger than accusing men of being lazy.
I also thought that the incorporation of evidence was better in Karnasiewicz’s essay, as the quotes were introduced, and from well-credited individuals (or so it seems, whereas everyone got jumbled together in Kleinfeld’s essay). For example he credits one man in detail writing, “Senior policy analyst at the Pell Institute for Opportunity in Higher Education and creator of the Postsecondary Education Opportunity Newsletter” (2), which made me feel as if he was definitely someone to be trusted.
Karnasiewicz does address the counterargument sometimes I believe, where she talks about schools that have done well but aren’t necessarily advocating for a solution to the gender gap, such as with MIT. It seems that she offers education as to how to improve the situation as a solution, where Kleinfeld did not offer a solution, and simply continued stating the problem.
Overall, I liked Karnasiewicz’s essay better. Maybe it was her tone, or her evidence, but it didn’t seem nearly as accusatory or biased, which I appreciated.