Re: H. Furbrow

Jacquelyn Zimmerman (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 09:57:30 -0400

This is in response to H. Furbrow's comments on Deborah Brake's
opening statements, questioning the accuracy and relevance of her
statements about the current unequal education conditions of girls and

While sex discrimination is no longer routinely accepted in education
and has been prohibited since Title IX became law, the incidences of
sexual harassment and assault that are continually reported show that
freedom from threats to learning still has not been achieved for girls
and women. Other conditions that inhibit equal opportunity in
education, which also impact the workplace, remain:

1. Although women earn half of all college degreees, they are less
likely than men to earn bachelor's degrees in computer science,
engineering, physical sciences, or math. At higher levels of
education, they account for only 17% of doctoral degrees in math and
physical science, 14% of doctoral degrees in computer science, and 7%
of doctoral degrees in engineering. This gap becomes even more
significant in the labor market where salaries are among the highest
in math/computer science and engineering--fields in which women are
underrepresented. Without more equity in these fields, women will
remain at the low end of positions and the pay scale in the
information age. Let me add that this last statement is true whether
or not it is true that, as H. Furbrow says, women "want" to be
secretaries and other low-paying jobs and not go in to these higher
paying professional fields. This opinion of women's desires is
irrelevant to the "truth" of the marketplace and the opportunities for
them in it.

2. In U.S. high schools, there are still about 24,000 more boys'
varsity teams than girls' teams; in college, women receive only
one-third of all athletic scholarships; and between 1992 and 1997
overall operating expenditures for women's college sports programs
grew only 89%, compared to 139% for men, representing only 23% of the
total operating expenses.

3. Even though women make up half of the labor market, not only are
tney underrepresented in jobs in scientific fields, but they are often
paid less than men for the same jobs. In 1993, only 18% of employed
recent female science and engineering graduates worked in scinece and
engineering occupations, compared to 35% of their male counterparts.
In the sameyear, women who had majored in the natural sciences earned
15% less than men who majored in the same field.

4. Despite women's larege gains toward equal educational attainment
and their accompanying gains in labor force participation, their
earnings are only 80% of the earnings of their male counterparts with
the same education--$26,000 vs. $32,000, respectively, for graduates
of 4-year colleges in 1993.

It's not that we haven't made progress toward equity for *all* since
Title IX was passed 26 years ago; it's that we are aware that more
needs to be done and that we must be vigilant if we are to accomplish
the next stage of progress, as in all developmental areas. When
efforts focused on one group--in this case, girls and women--succeed,
all groups benefit. If your neighbor's house was on fire you wouldn't
say "Ho, hum" and close your windows and shades. You'd most likely
call the fire department or run to your neighbor's house to find out
if they had called the fire department because the conditions in their
house will most certainly affect yours. This is why we struggle, for
example, with the question of separate schools for girls and women.
We are really asking what conditions of education produce the most
gains, with gains having numerous definitions according to one's
"agenda," culture, ideology, beliefs, politics, class, and so forth.
For example, we know that the math/science/computer fields command
high salaries. If the conditions are not good for girls to learn math
then they are in fact excluded from the opportunity to earn high
salaries. One can question whether a given woman's goal is to earn a
high salary or whether it should or shouldn't be her goal, but one
cannot put into question the opportunity to do so.

The bullets above were taken from "Title IX, 25 Years of Progress" by
U.S. Department of Education, June 1997. I'm happy to send a copy to
those who request one.

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Parts II & III - Deborah Brake's opening statement
Author: at Internet
Date: 4/20/98 2:26 PM

>The ongoing problems include: discrimination against
>pregnant and parenting young women, combined with wholly
>inadequate educational opportunities, which exacerbate
>high dropout rates and foster economic dependence with
>all of its attendant problems;

Drop out rates, according to the government, are higher for boys in all
age and racial categories.

>the rampant problem of sexual harassment; substantial
>underrepresentation of females in math, science and other high
>technology programs;

How do you define "substantial"? Female representation has been
increasing in all categories. On the 1996 National Assessment of
Educational Progress math tests, eighth and twelfth grade girls did as
well as boys. Reversing earlier patterns, girls are more likely than
boys to take geometry, algebra, and chemestry in high school, and
equally likely to take trigonometry and calculus.

How does this square with the need for an "educational equity" program
aimed exclusively at girls?

>significantly lower scores on a wide variety of
>standardized tests; biases against girls' participation
>in the classroom and biased curricula;

Girls outperform boys (and I believe, always have) by a substantial
margin in reading, and especially writing. In 1995, Science magazine
warned that this trend could seriously damage young men's job
opportunities in the information age.

>highly sex-segregated vocational education programs
>with females overwhelmingly in training programs
>for traditionally female -- and traditionally
>low wage -- jobs;

Unless you can cite figures for the above claim, I'll choose to believe
that the problem is not as bad as you make out. Some girls *choose* to
be secretaries or hairdressers because they plan on being mothers and
homemakers rather than engineers, scientists, or lawyers. We will
always need secretaries and hairdressers, female or male. And some
women will choose full time mothering despite our best efforts to lead
them to the corporate world. Removing these "traditionally female" jobs
as options for young women, and continuing to discourage and ridicule
boys who might want to pursue them sends a message that you look down on
their choices and see them as inadequate.

>exclusion of female students from many athletics
>opportunities, including athletic scholarships
>worth hundreds of millions of dollars;

What exclusion from what athletic opportunities? The Title IX lawsuits
which swept across tha nation in the 1980's have closed down many
moneymaking male sports activities, the reduced funding resulting in the
loss of programs for both sexes.

>and the availability to men but not women of entire
>classes of other scholarships, many for study in
>fields in which men already have a participation

Do you have an example of such scholarships, and a source for this
information? The discussion will be meaningless if we keep using broad
generalizations like "entire classes" and "many" without any concrete

H. Furbrow

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