[EDEQUITY Science Dialogue] Career Counseling & Science/Techn ology

From: Keller, Kathleen (kkeller@nwlc.org)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 12:28:22 EST

The question about how to ensure that parents, teachers, guidance
counselors, and administrators encourage girls to pick science as a career
is an excellent question. Obviously, there are many ways to approach this
problem. Here in the United States, the law gives us some leverage. As
many of you probably know, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments
prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive any federal
assistance. Title IX also applies to counseling programs offered by
schools, and the Title IX regulations specifically address the problem of
career counseling.

The Title IX regulations specify that schools should "develop and use
internal procedures for ensuring that [counseling and appraisal] materials
do not discriminate on the basis of sex." Moreover, when a class contains
"substantially disproportionate number of individuals of one sex" (such as
an AP Physics class that is almost all male), the school must take action
ensure it is not the result of discrimination in counseling or appraisal
materials. In addition, the Department of Education's Vocational Education
Guidelines indicate that counseling materials should not create or
perpetuate stereotypes through their text or their illustration, and that
schools have a responsibility to try to depict individuals in fields where
their sex is under-represented.

Students, parents and educators should ask: Does my school have a process
for evaluating counseling methods? When class enrollment is
disproportionate, does the school try to find out if counseling plays a
in creating that disproportion? Do counseling materials, career days,
show women working in scientific and technical fields?

The Department of Education has written a pamphlet entitled "The Guidance
Counselor's Role in Ensuring Equal Educational Opportunity", which can be
found at www.ed.gov/offices/OCR/hq43ef.html. This pamphlet provides
suggestions about what counselors and school administrators can do , and
provides a "counseling checklist" at the end. There is also information
about counseling provided in the National Women's Law Center's pamphlet,
Putting the Law on Your Side: A Guide for Women and Girls to Equal
Opportunity in Career Education and Job Training, available on our website
at www.nwlc.org.

Kathleen Keller
Educational Opportunities Fellow
National Women's Law Center
11 Dupont Circle, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 588-5180

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