Boy/girl ratios in Catholic schools

While my son is still a little too young to start attending school, I’ve been thinking about where to send him. The public schools here aren’t awful, but they certainly aren’t great. There are a lot of “marijuana-friendly” families in the area.

When looking at the local Catholic school (it serves three nearby parishes), I found a photo of the graduating class and there was an odd disparity in the ratio of boys to girls… two boys, nine girls.

That worries me. Catholics have girls and boys in more or less equal numbers, so something weird is going on. I can think of two possibilities:

  1. Boys are being driven away from Catholic education
  2. Girls are being sent there from non-Catholic families in order to avoid the public school

Does anyone else see this same disparity elsewhere?

I’m sure the national disparity isn’t even close to that wide, but there tends to be a mild disparity in favor of girls because:

A) The way (most) formal education is set up, it is advantageous towards neurotypical girls and disadvantageous towards neurotypical boys. Girls perform better in a setting that involves grades, compliance, and long study. Since grades are abstract and meaningless to real life, boys have a harder time being motivated to do well.

B) Various social ills are more likely to make boys drop out. Boys are more likely to be given harsher penalties in school than girls, even if the offense is identical. Elementary school teachers (mostly female) are more likely to gives boys worse grades for identical work.

C) Catholic schools are private, so if a student is too burdensome they can ditch them, or the parent just disenrolls them if it isn’t working out.


I can think of a third possibility. Could just be an anomaly for that particular class.

My daughter teaches in a small Catholic school (classes about the same size at what you described)…some years she has 80% females, some years she has 80% males, some years it’s 50/50…

In a small class size, it’s much easier to get wild statistical swings than in a class of 80 or 100 kids.

If you can, take a look at the overall stats from the school, not just one grade.


That’s true about class size and statistical swings. I hadn’t thought of that, but then I am only on my first coffee of the day. Serves me right.

I definitely plan to visit during the open house time and look into the ratios across grades, but I wanted to prepare myself by knowing what to look for when I visit.

I suspect as TK421 says, that the ratio gets more disparate in the upper grades as boys drop out. But like you say the small class size may drive the numbers all over the place, so who knows what I’ll find.

Also, and I just thought of this; the school is too small to have sports teams, so boys wanting to play football/baseball/whatever will be lured away by the public school.

That may have an impact, although there likely would be girls who opted for other schools for athletics too. Perhaps not as many as boys.

Our Catholic school (publicly funded) has some classes of mostly boys and some mostly girls. I noticed more boys in English classes than the French immersion so that could be a reason there, also seems some years everyone has boys and other years its girls.

While not quite so drastic as 9:2, my experience is that the ratio does lean towards girls as kids advance through grade school. I had one son who only had 4 boys in his 8th grade class with 15 girls. But that was the extreme. Its not the case for catholic high schools as far as I can tell.

I do not know why this is the case, but there is a definite pattern. I suspect that more parents of boys than girls want better athletic programs and competition in middle school and end up opting out. But I have nothing but anecdotal evidence of that theory.

Thanks tafan2, I should have mentioned that the graduating class I mentioned was the senior class. The school is k-12. I doubt that changes much but thought I would mention it.

Yeah, boys tend also to be pushed into sports by parents more than girls are. For whatever that’s worth.

Either way, if there are consistently small numbers of boys compared to girls in the upper grades then its something worth thinking about further. If the ratios vary wildly, then it’s just weird luck of the draw and nothing can be done about that.

As a Catholic, I go to a Christian college and 2/3 of the students are female

Thanks BriannaBanana, do you have any thoughts about why it is? I am just curious what you might think.

It is an interesting problem for us Catholics that men seem to be turned off to religion, particularly in a religion where only men are admitted to the priesthood.


That may have something to do with majors that are offered at the school. In high school, everyone takes (more or less) the same classes whether they are male or female because the government mandates certain topics be taught. Colleges are much different and the types of majors offered can and do impact the ratios of males and females.


There are more women than men in college, in general, nowadays.


More schools were started by convents than by male orders. Even though the sisters are mostly gone now, the patterns continue.

In some big cities public schools are physically dangerous. Families err on the side of safety for their daughters.

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The 50:50 expectation is only reasonable when the numbers are large.

The quarterback Philip Rivers, for instance, has six daughters and two sons (with a 9th child on the way). Can we conclude that this is an “odd disparity”? No, we see disparities like this in big families quite frequently. As it is with big families, so it is with small schools. I went to a very small school; it wasn’t unusual to have one girl and all the rest boys in one class and one boy and all the rest girls in another, with one class having eight students and another having as few as two or three, or even none. It is to be expected. In the thirty years or so I know of for that school, it was never any other way: I mean, it was the classes with the same number of boys and girls that were the exception.

If I had any concern about the school you’re considering it would be these: Is it on a firm financial footing? It may be–and again, I know of a school with very small classes that is–but sometimes very small schools are in constant peril of closing. How is the educational quality? That can also vary wildly in very small schools, from marginal to exceptionally good.

In your place, I would inquire about how many of the children go to the local Catholic high school, and how they do once they get there. That will tell you a lot. I’d also suggest talking to the students, including former students now in high school (and still presumably attending your parish). The teachers and the parents will sometimes put on a good front, but students are usually pretty honest about whether their school got them ready for high school or not and what they’d change about the school if they could.

Finally, the other thought I had is that you can probaby volunteer at the school as a parishioner, if you go through the abuse-prevention training (which is well worth taking). That could speak volumes, as well, and it won’t hurt your child if you are recognized as a “friend of the school” before your child even starts.

I think the main reason that there are more girls at my school because most people are nursing/elementary education/psychology majors.

This might be one possible reason:
Like you had mentioned, I think that some men (not all men) might be turned off to religion because sometimes it deals with being vulnerable with your emotions and girls are more likely to share and express their feelings and faith with one another. I am currently in training to be a campus ministry leader and have noticed that in the women’s ministry at school, all the girls talk about faith and feelings. We talk about having meaningful relationships with God and each other, finding a Christ-like spouse, etc. Meanwhile, I noticed the men’s ministry seems more like a prayer group and Bible study.

I hope this kinda makes sense…

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Ideally? It would be a mix of schools each with 1:0 or 0:1 . . .

One of the tidbits I’ve picked up along the way is that having three or less children of the same sex doesn’t say anything about the chances for the next, but four of the same sex does indicate an increased likelihood that the next is the same . . .

Also while boys gain from single sex education, girls gain even more . . .

I had all boys in my class, and I was glad of it. Those middle school years were much easier! (I say that comparing to a class that was all girls and just one boy. Maybe it is because I had so many brothers, but it would not have suited me!!)

In a small school, though, you don’t get that choice. You get what you get.

I would have loved to be the only boy in an all girls school, too, sure. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: In fact, on a tour of an IBM facility, which had (possibly for such tours?) a college search program that we were set loose with, I found multiple schools with 80%+ female and 10%+ men (we could only set floors, and in 10% increments!)

But as far as the gains from single sex, it’s an academic issue. As a group, girls both participate more and perform better in a class without boys, with the distinction becoming more distinct in high school and primary.

I think you’re correct.

Years ago, friends of mine had a son who was a prodigy in math and science. He had scholarship offers from colleges across the country. They toured a well-known and very prestigious engineering school and discovered that the student body was roughly 75% male.

In the aforementioned engineering college, the motto among the 25% of the student body who was female was, “The odds are good…but the goods are odd!” :wink:

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