Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Gender and Literacy"

Some data to accompany Section 14 of Grewal & Kaplan's An Introduction to Women's Studies:

The state of Arkansas
Arkansas: 14% of population (2,044,669) lacks basic prose literacy skills.

According to the 2000 United States Census, Arkansas has 1,993,031 residents age 18 and over. Of this number, 491,000, or almost 25 percent, do not have a high school diploma. Of the 491,000 Arkansans, 170,420 have less than an eighth-grade education.

Facts courtesy Arkansas Literacy Councils:

More than 20% of Arkansans read at or below 5th grade level, well below the level needed to earn a living wage.

43% of those with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty. 17% are on food stamps, and 70% have no job or work part-time.

Those in the work force with no high school diploma earn on average $425 a month, those with a BA, $1829.

Newspaper consumption (from the Pew Research Center, Feb. 16, 2009):

There has long been a sizable "generation gap" in newspaper readership. In 1998, those in the oldest age cohort -- the Greatest/Silent Generations (born before 1946) -- were more than twice as likely as those in the youngest generation at that time (Generation X) to read a newspaper yesterday (65% vs. 31%). Older age cohorts continue to read newspapers at much higher rates than do younger cohorts.

In the 2008 survey, slightly more than half (53%) of those in this age cohort said they read a newspaper yesterday. A decade earlier, 65% of those in the Silent/Greatest Generations did so. There also has been a large decline in the percentage of Baby Boomers who reported reading a newspaper yesterday, from 48% in 1998 to 38% a decade later.

By contrast, newspaper readership has been more stable among younger age cohorts. In 2008, 26% of those in Generation X said the read a newspaper yesterday, compared with 31% in 1998. Last year, 21% of those in Generation Y said they read a newspaper on the previous day, which was little changed from 2004 (22%).

The generational pattern in television news viewership is somewhat different: Within each age cohort, the percentages saying they watched television news yesterday have remained stable in recent years. As with newspapers, a far lower proportion of Gen Y than older age cohorts reports watching TV news on a typical day. Unlike newspapers, however, there is even a sizable gap in television news viewership between Gen Y and Gen X. In 2008, just 42% of Gen Y said they watched television news yesterday, compared with 54% of Gen X and even higher percentages of Boomers (61%) and the Silent/Greatest Generations (73%).

Like newspapers, radio news has seen a gradual overall decline over the past decade. In 2008, as in previous news consumption surveys, those in their prime working years were more likely than others to report listening to radio news yesterday. Radio news listenership was higher among Gen X (41%) and Boomers (38%) than among either the Silent/Greatest Generations (30%) or Gen Y (29%).

In contrast to traditional media sources, use of online news on a typical day has increased in recent years. Nearly all of this growth has come in Gen X (from 32% in 2006 to 38% in 2008) and Gen Y (from 24% to 33%).

...Newspaper websites are especially popular with highly educated online news consumers. More than a quarter of those who have attended graduate school (28%) cite a newspaper website as where they go most often for news and information. That compares with 16% of those with no more than a college degree and much smaller percentages of those with less education.

Gendered reading:

A recent international study suggests that girls are reading better than boys through age 15. According to the report, girls had higher reading scores in every one of 43 countries surveyed.

The survey, "Literacy Skills for the World of Tomorrow", was developed by UNESCO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and based on tests involving 4,500 to 10,000 students in each country.

Interestingly, the report also suggests that boys are reading less fluently because of "a lack of engagement." Statistically, 56 percent of the boys read only to get information, compared with 33 percent of the girls. However, nearly half of the girls said they read for at least thirty minutes a day, compared with less than one-third of the boys.

As expected, students living in countries with higher national incomes performed better in educational tests, including reading, math and science...The study also showed "strong relationships" between class and educational performances in countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and the United States...

Adding to the OECD study are the following international literacy statistics reported by the Literacy Trust of England:
  • 130 million of the world's children aged 6-11 are not in school.
  • 90 million of the world's children aged 6-11 not in school are girls.

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