Title IX is coming to math and science. So says this article by Christina Hoff Sommers from the April 14, 2009 edition of the Washington Post.
Most of us know of Title IX as the federal law which requires that universities ensure equality in men’s and women’s athletics. And we’ve all noted the rise in women’s athletics as a result.
According to the article, in an October 2009 letter to women’s rights groups President Obama stated that Title IX had
“an enormous impact on women’s opportunities and participation in sports.” If pursued with “necessary attention and enforcement,” the same law could make “similar, striking advances” for women in science and engineering.
Sounds great, right?
Sure, if you’re a woman or have only daughters. But what about boys, our forgotten demographic?
No one questions that Title IX pushed Women’s athletics to heights it might not otherwise have achieved. But those advances came at a cost. A cost borne by male athletes.
The article cites Howard University as an example.
In 2007, the Women’s Sports Foundation, a powerful Title IX advocacy group, gave Howard an “F” grade because of its 24-percentage-point “proportionality gap”: Howard’s student body was 67 percent female, but women constituted only 43 percent of its athletic program. In 2002, Howard cut men’s wrestling and baseball and added women’s bowling, but that did little to narrow the gap. Unless it sends almost half of its remaining male athletes to the locker room, Howard will remain blacklisted and legally vulnerable. Former Howard wrestling coach Wade Hughes sums up the problem this way: “The impact of Title IX’s proportionality standard has been disastrous because . . . far more males than females are seeking to take part in athletics.”
What happens if we apply the same equity standard to academics?
While slightly more males than females obtain degrees in math or science related fields, like computer sciences and engineering, women now achieve far more Bachelor’s Degrees than men and out pace men by significant margins in obtaining advanced degrees in social and life science and education.
In the 2008 SAT, boys outperformed girls slightly by 33 points in math (and that gap has been closing rapidly), boys and girls scored statistically the same on critical reading, and girls outperformed boys slightly by 13 points in writing. Nationwide, girls have higher overall grade point averages and attend college at higher rates.
With higher grade point averages and virtually identical SAT scores, perhaps we ought to be asking why proportionately fewer women pursue degrees in science, math, and engineering than men, AND why significantly fewer men than women pursue degrees in social and life sciences and education before we enforce Title IX’s equity mandates on academics?
Remember the Howard example?
Title IX requires equity – if the school is 67% female, then 67% of the students engaged in sports must be female and only 33% can be male. Interest is irrelevant. What matters is complete equity, even if that means tossing boys sports.
Applying those same standards to academics, if 67% of the student population is female, then 67% of those obtaining degrees in engineering must be female. Interest doesn’t matter. So if 100 students apply to the College of Engineering, and only 20 of those 100 are female, in order to maintain equity and have 67% of the Engineering students be female, only 10 males can be admitted. 100% of the women applying to the program will be admitted while only 12.5% of the males will be.
That’s not equity. That’s sexism. And it means that boys will be kicked out of math and science to make way for girls.