Monday, September 24, 2012

Why we should celebrate the 40th Birthday of Title IX

When we here Title IX most of us think about the impact on sports; however, it was initially intended to give women more opportunities in higher education. By opening the gates to gyms, stadiums and playing fields, Title IX changed the way women in America see themselves.
The groundbreaking legislation is about a lot more than sports; it also lays the foundation for equity between the genders in access to higher education, career education, employment, learning environment, sexual harassment, standardized testing, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — courses, and education for pregnant and parenting students. Because of Title IX, young moms and parenting fathers must have equal access to school programs and extracurricular activities. The same attendance policy applied to students with medical conditions or temporary disabilities must be applied to pregnant teens and those recovering from childbirth.
The federal Office of Civil Rights collects data from schools nationwide and recently started asking about bullying and harassment. Title IX requires schools to provide a safe environment where sexual harassment does not interfere with learning. However, when the AAUW looked at the 20 largest schools in the country, 14 of them reported zero cases that academic year. The group is trying to draw attention to the implausibility of those numbers and push for more accuracy in reporting.
Career and technical education classes — such as wood shop and home economics — that were once gendered as a rule now are not because of Title IX. The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education report found the percentage of career and technical education classes leading to nontraditional careers went from zero when Title IX was first passed to more than 25 percent in the 2009-10 academic year. Huge growth also has come in the number of female students on college campuses and the number of women teaching on college campuses.

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