Self-esteem is covered in Chapter Four, with plenty of statistics. In elementary school, 67% of boys said "I'm happy the way I am." But by high school, the percentage of boys agreeing to that statement dropped 21 points, to 46%. And for girls, the drop was more dramatic: 60% said they were happy about themselves in elementary, but only 37% answered "affirmatively in middle school" (p. 78), and only 29% in high school. The authors develop this theme throughout the chapter (titled, "The Self-Esteem Slide"), concluding with this: "The girl who once laid claim to the top of the slide does not go into the playground anymore...no longer is she at the peak of her world...instead she walks cautiously, wary of the traps around her."
In Chapter Eight, the boys who rose to the top of the class in elementary now pay a price, and often "land at the bottom" in high school. And since boys have learned, from their "earliest days...a destructive form of division - how to separate themselves from girls," even though they now may fall short, they are still ahead of the game because "they are not girls."
These books are certainly legitimate and interesting, and clearly authentic works of scholarship. But if one is looking for a more thorough, more balanced view of boys and girls in the classrooms of 2003, and the dynamics created by social forces outside the classroom, further research might be advantageous.