Published in Hispanic
Outlook, 02/25/2000, pp. 28-30, Vol. 10, No. 11
Assessing Equity for Women
Latina Earnings Lowest: 58 Cents on the Male Dollar
by Marilyn Gilroy
The good news: women are now the majority (56 percent) of students
enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate institutions and, as
a group, have surpassed men in degree attainment at the associate's,
bachelor's, and master's levels. The bad news: on average, a White
mm with a high school diploma still earns more than a woman college
graduate of any racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, or ability group.
Women overall earn 74 cents for every dollar earned by men; Latinas
earn 58 cents, African American women earn 67 cents, White women
earn 75 cents, and Asian American women earn 80 cents.
These findings were issued recently by the
Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Equity Resource Center
at Education Development
Center, Inc., as part of its compilation of existing research
on equity for women and girls.
"There is still a real concern for equity issues," said
Katherine Hanson, director of the Center. "Women and girls
need a lot of resources and help." The WEEA Equity Resource
Center was started in the mid-1970s to work with schools, community
organizations, businesses, and individuals to: publish and market
gender-fair education products; fight against discrimination based
on gender, race, class, language, and disability; and disseminate
the latest resources for multicultural gender-fair education.
The Center is an outgrowth of the Women's Educational Equity Act,
a U.S. Department of Education program started in 1974, dedicated
to reducing the educational disparity between men and women. It
is the only federally funded program devoted exclusively to promoting
gender equity and has been a major catalyst for infusing equity
into educational systems. The WEEA program has awarded more than
700 grants to schools, universities, community organizations, and
individuals. It also funds the WEEA Equity Resources Center at
Education Development Center.
Although WEEA can boast a number of dramatic gains toward the
goal of equity in the last 25 years, statistics show that there
is still a long way to go.
"There has been an incredible amount of change since the
enactment of Title IX," said Hanson. "But a lot of that
progress has been for White women. That's a real concern for us."
The situation is especially critical for Latinas, who often lag
behind women and girls in all categories of achievement. For example,
the percentage of all females ages 16-24 years who are not in school
and have not completed high school is 10.9 percent; for Latinas,
it is 28.3 percent, almost triple the overall rate.
"We find that Latinas lag behind other groups in part because
they are socialized to think of motherhood as their primary role," said
Hanson. "The challenge is to try and increase their options."
WEEA has funded a number of grants that specifically targeted
younger Latinas as well as those in college. The projects included
one at six California elementary school sites where 120 Hispanic
girls in grades drive through five were introduced to math and
science through intensive tutoring, guest speakers, and counselors
who tackled self- esteem issues. The girls also attended a six-week
summer institute that included programs for their parents.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Westchester Community College,
located north of New York City, targeted Hispanic women whose first
language is not English and provided support for study in technological
fields (engineering and computer sciences). In addition to offering
academic support, this two-year program provided women with career
counseling and mentoring from individuals who worked in local businesses.
The Resource Center works with these schools
and other grantees of the WEEA program to translate the latest
and development into replicable models. These "field tested" methods
are used to encourage innovation in schools, universities, and
community organizations throughout the nation.
WEEA has also published bilingual resource guides for educators,
single mothers, and community leaders who want to encourage gender
equity (see end of article).
All of these efforts have raised awareness of the critical need
of continuing toward the goal of equality. But even a concept as
democratic as gender equity can have its critics.
"Some people believe that boys are losing out because of
the emphasis on gender equity for girls during the last 20 years," explained
Hanson. "They believe that these efforts have been damaging
to boys. That is clearly not true from the most recent statistics
on test scores and achievement."
Moreover, says Hanson, society in general benefits when everyone,
regardless of gender or race, is included and provided with equal
opportunity. And indeed, that is the true definition of gender
equity, which is defined as a set of actions, attitudes, and assumptions
that provide opportunities and create expectations about individuals
regardless of gender.
In order to help turn this goal into reality, the WEEA has gone
beyond grant programs and publications. Like many other organizations,
the Center has been turning to the Internet and the World Wide
Web to help it reach new audiences.
For example, it has sponsored the Educational Equity Discussion
list (EDEQUITY), an international online discussion about all aspects
of educational equity in a multicultural context. EDEQUITY gives
people an opportunity to ask questions and exchange information
about teaching strategies, useful texts and films, innovative programs,
current research, and funding sources.
"We have had a wonderful response to this," said Hanson. "Our
last online forum drew 680 participants who signed on for a discussion
about the current status of gender equity initiatives."
The Center is also offering an online course for teachers who
want to explore ways to engage middle school girls in math and
science. It was developed in response to research that shows that
middle school is a critical transition period for girls. In analyzing
achievement test scores, results show that through 5th grade, girls
and boys score nearly identically in math and science; after that,
girls' scores begin to plummet. As girls reach middle school, they
are also less likely to take elective courses in math and science.
The downward spiral is even more severe for Latinas, who might
come from poorer families where English is a second language.
"This course deals with the whole range of equity issues
due to gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities," said Hanson. "It
also explores the power dynamics in the classroom."
Of course, the overall purpose of the course is to help teachers
increase the interest and achievement levels of middle school girls
in math and science, thereby laying the foundation for a variety
of options in college and, later on, management-level careers research.
The course is comparable to 16 hours of traditional instruction,
and participants can receive credit toward their professional development
To round out its array of materials, the Equity Resource Center
has also developed the WEEA Digest, available in print and online.
The Digest offers articles and discussions on equity theory and
research from national authorities on education. It is often used
as a tool in teacher education courses and workshops.
For those who think that the battle for gender
equity is slowing down, the WEEA Equity Resource Center provides
new energy and tools
to face the challenges that remain. Its mission is clearly defined
and best expressed in the words of a former WEEA project director: "Gender
equity is an alive and vital discipline that continues to evolve
and change, just like the entire field of education. It is an issue
that needs to be continually examined, revised, and supported.
Even though it changes over time, gender equity is a real issue
that needs to be addressed anew every year."
The following is a partial fist of publications that can be ordered
through the WEEA Equity Resource Center's Web site: www.edc.org/Women'sEquity:
Raising the Grade: A Title IX Curriculum
A collection of fun and interesting activities that will strengthen
6th through 12th graders' abilities to work together effectively
across the diversity of gender, race, national origin and disability.
Raising the Grade will help students recognize that they can take
action to make gender equity a reality in all areas of their lives.
(WEEA Equity Resource Center, 1999)
La Igualdad de Genero para Educadores, Padres, y la Comunidad
(Gender Equity for Educators, Parents, and Community) from the
Equity in Education Series
For X-12 teachers, administrators, parents, and community programs.
This booklet (translated to Spanish by the Western Area Vocational
Gender Equity Center) challenges the thinking that limits expectations
for girls and boys. It illustrates gender stereotyping and its
relationship to students' success, and explains what Title IX is
and how it supports equitable education. It teaches how to recognize
and respond to gender bias, and provides gender equity awareness
exercises for teachers to use in K-12 classrooms. (WEEA Publishing
Las matematicas, las ciencias y su hija from the Encouraging Girls
in Math and Science Series
Open the doors of opportunity for girls in math, science, and
engineering with a pamphlet that translates current research on
math and science and girls into practical suggestions and concrete
action steps. Las matematicas, las ciencias, y su hija helps parents
encourage their daughters in math and science and overcome the
barriers of sex discrimination by learning about the roles women
play in science.
These pamphlets are especially appropriate for distribution at
workshops and conferences.
(Dr. Patricia B. Campbell, Campbell-Kibler Associates, 1992)
ESL: The Whole Person Approach - for K-12 bilingual teachers
An innovative approach to ESL teacher training, this guide introduces
to the practitioner a holistic, humanistic method of bilingual
education. The text fully integrates bilingual education with gender
equity concepts both to improve Latino/Hispanic students' English
proficiency and to remove gender bias from multicultural curricula.
(Cynthia Ramsey and Trinidad Lopez, National Institute for Multicultural
Guia de Recursos para la Madre Sola (Single Mother's Resource
For teen parenting programs, middle and high school teachers,
counselors, resource centers, and individual mothers. An important
addition to all programs serving pregnant and parenting teens,
this all-time bestseller helps single mothers develop positive
self-images, recognize available alternatives, better express their
needs and feelings, positively influence their children, and use
problem-solving skills to make better decisions. Updated in 1992
and translated into Spanish by the WEEA Equity Resource Center.
(Annette Fernando and David Newbert, Head Start Child Development
Corporation, revised 1992)
Checklists for Counteracting Race and Sex Bias in Educational
For over 15 years, this easy-to-use handbook has helped parents
and teachers evaluate bilingual and multicultural curriculum materials
for the presence of race and gender bias. (Martha P. Cotera, 1982)
The Equity Principal: Administrator's Handbook
The Handbook provides practical workshop plans to help administrators
promote equity as a criterion for excellence in today's increasingly
diverse population of learners. (Dolores A. Grayson, GrayMill Publications,
GESA: Generating Expectations for Student Achievement - Teacher
This invaluable GESA (Generating Expectations for Student Achievement,
formerly Gender/Ethnic Expectations and Student Achievement) handbook
identifies five major areas of classroom disparity and offers research-based
strategies to counter inequities. It will help teachers look at
the impact of gender, race, and ethnic biases in their teaching
and discover what happens when they reduce bias in their classrooms.
(Dolores A. Grayson and Mary D. Martin, GrayMill Publications,
Going Places. An Enrichment Program to Empower Students
Dropout prevention begins by helping students deal with self-esteem
issues early in their school careers. Going Places, based on a
project conducted in the San Diego City Schools, targets those
middle school students most at risk of dropping out. The 18-week
curriculum helps students build up their self-esteem, believe they
can succeed in school, and work toward positive self-image and,
eventually, high school graduation.
The publication focuses on enrichment and hands-on, cooperative
group learning. it develops and builds self-esteem, improves problem-solving
and decision-making skills, and develops leadership skills - all
designed to help middle school students begin high school with
a successful experience.
It details how to implement the "Going Places" program,
explains how to recruit students, and guides teachers through the
daily plan for 18 weeks. Finally, it emphasizes support groups,
a sense of belonging, and parent involvement in the education of
their children. (San Diego City Schools, 1991)
The Hidden Discriminator: Sex and Race Bias in Educational Research
The Hidden Discriminator provides an in-depth examination of stereotypes
and bias in educational research. It explores the hidden effects
of bias on decision-making and program design. It reveals numerous
examples of bias in research - past and present - and concludes
with guidelines for evaluating and eliminating sex and race bias
in research. The set consists of a book and one each of the five
pamphlets. The pamphlets are especially appropriate for distribution
at workshops and conferences. (Dr. Patricia B. Campbell, Campbell-Kibler
Infusing an Equity Agenda into Education
The Infusion Process Model uses existing organizational structures
and communication systems to generate broad-based advocacy for
educational equity and infuses equity concepts into all levels
of school district operation. (Dolores A. Grayson, GrayMill Publications,