Re: Opening Statement - Deborah Brake

Deborah Brake (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 11:52:29 -0700

H Furbrow wrote:
> >Title IX provides as follows:
> >"No person in the United States shall, on the basis
> >of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied
> >the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination
> >under any education program or activity receiving
> >Federal financial assistance."
> How does this square with the fact that women now receive 55% to 60% of
> all Bachellor and advanced college degrees?
> How does this square with excluding boys from "Take Your Daughter to
> Work Day"? This event is sponsored by schools and government
> institutions nationwide.
> How does this square with the Dept. of HHS "Bright Future for Girls"
> campaign? There is NO corresponding program for boys, even though we
> know that boys commit suicide at a rate six times higher than girls.
> The fact is that girls now outperform boys in just about every academic
> category, and boys are at a highr risk of academic and social failure
> than girls in every age group.
> How do we justify programs aimed at "educational equity" for girls and
> women given the above facts?
> H. Furbrow
I'm afraid that your summary of the status of girls and women in
education misses the forest for the trees. While women have achieved
access to higher education and are graduating from college in record
numbers, there are still very significant barriers. For example:
-women remain underrepresented in traditionally male fields, especially
in such areas as math and sciences, engineering and computers; also,
women's representation declines as you go up the educational ladder --
for example, women get only 39% of all doctorate degrees;
-women and girls experience sexual harassment more frequently than men
and boys, and with greater detriment; such harassment is often severe
enough to drive women out of particular education programs or out of
school entirely;
-vocational education remains highly sex-segregated, with women
clustered in low-wage, traditionally female tracks;
-women have not achieved equality in employment in education: although
women are 73% of high school teachers, they are only 35% of principals;
women are 30% of college faculty, and remain in lower faculty ranks at
all levels of post-secondary education. Women head only 13% of all
educational institutions;
-studies continue to show gender bias in learning environments, with
less attention, praise and encouragement given to female students;
-pregnant and parenting students face particular barriers to getting an
-we don't have enough room to discuss the well-documented
discrimination against girls and women in school and college athletic

All of these areas, and more, are summarized more fully in a gender
equity report card issued on the 25th anniversary of Title IX by the
National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. The report card is
online at

As for your description of Title IX, it's a bit too simplistic. While
you accurately quote the statute's main prohibition against sex
discrimination, Title IX also permits affirmative action on the basis of
sex where it is deisgned "to overcome the effects of conditions which
resulted in limited participation by persons of a particular sex." See
34 CFR 106.3(b). Special programs for girls may often be justified
under this standard.

As for the programs you mentioned, some of them are also available to
boys. For example, many employers sponsor take your child to work days,
not just for girls.

Overall, I think it's very important that we get past a boys vs. girls
approach to educational equity and ask what works best for all students.
Where girls -- or boys -- face particular disadvantages because of their
sex, both Title IX and the Constitution permit schools to offer programs
specifically designed to take those needs into account.

Deborah Brake

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