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Report Card - Action Agenda

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| Progress Reports | Action Agenda | Executive Summary (AAUW web site)

How can we as a nation achieve gender equity? The following Action Agenda provides recommendations designed to create a blueprint for change and move us closer to achieving Title IX's goal of eliminating sex discrimination in education.

This list of recommendations for Congress, administrative agencies, and educational institutions is not exhaustive; people working on these issues undoubtedly will develop additional strategies. However, the Action Agenda, in tandem with efforts by students, parents, and educators in communities throughout the country, can help ensure that gender is not a barrier to educational opportunity.

What Can Policymakers Do?

President Clinton and congressional leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have identified education as a top priority. Ensuring that educational opportunities are available to all students ––irrespective of gender–– is critical to providing the students with the training necessary to make the nation competitive in an increasingly global economy. To that end, Congress should take the following steps:

  • Amend the welfare law to allow women on public assistance to pursue postsecondary education and to allow college study and work study to count toward a welfare recipient's work requirement.
  • Restore funding to the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowships to encourage women and students of color to pursue master's, professional, and doctoral programs in areas where they are underrepresented.
  • Strengthen the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act to require colleges and universities to provide information on gender equity in their athletic programs to one central government office. In addition, Congress should enact a similar sunshine law to require high schools to disclose publicly information regarding athletic equity.
  • Reinstate funding for Title IV state educational agencies, which have provided schools with important assistance in their efforts to provide a non–discriminatory learning environment.
  • Maintain funding levels for sex equity programs and services in reauthorizing vocational education legislation, including supportive services and professional development for non–traditional training.
  • Establish a uniform data collection system for evaluating state efforts at achieving equity in vocational education and accountability standards that measure progress in sex equity in this area.
  • Establish an incentive program rewarding states for successful equity activities, particularly states that annually increase the number of students trained and placed in non–traditional careers.
  • Increase and target funding for the Eisenhower Professional Development Program so teachers can learn techniques to close the gender gap in math and science.

What Can the President and Administrative Agencies Do?

Every administrative agency that provides funding for educational programs or activities has the authority and the responsibility for enforcing Title IX. However, after 25 years, only four such agencies have adopted regulations to enforce the law. Although the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is the lead agency for Title IX enforcement, other agencies can and should take proactive measures to make Title IX's mandate a reality. The following steps are critical:

  • Adopt the Title IX regulation promulgated by the Department of Education, including all policy guidances that implement Title IX's mandate, particularly the recently released policy on sexual harassment.
  • Develop a comprehensive enforcement plan regarding Title IX that includes conducting compliance reviews in key areas where barriers persist, such as employment, women's participation in math and science, sexual harassment, athletics programming, and access to non–traditional employment. Such a plan also should include coordinating with the Department of Justice to refer cases of noncompliance.
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for heightening awareness regarding Title IX's requirements concerning sexual harassment, which includes informing school superintendents and presidents of colleges and universities about the new sexual harassment policy guidance, working with community–based and advocacy organizations, and conducting public education.
  • Ensure that new national testing initiatives result in fair testing instruments that measure students' performance and achievements in a non–biased manner. This recommendation applies to the Department of Education, which is taking the lead on this policy initiative.
  • Develop a proactive leadership strategy to insure that School–to–Work is implemented in a gender equitable manner. The federal School–to–Work Office and the Departments of Labor and Education should develop strategies to ensure that recipients of School–to–Work funds are building gender equitable systems, starting with site visits to assess state efforts at serving girls and young women as well as other underserved populations.
  • Expand Title IX to cover federally conducted education programs or activities such as the Department of Defense school system, which encompasses a great many institutions, and fellowships administered by the National Science Foundation. At present, many of these programs are not covered by Title IX.

What Can Educational Institutions Do?

Comply with Title IX's requirements. This includes the following:

  • Designate at least one person as Title IX coordinator to organize efforts to comply with Title IX and to investigate any Title IX complaints. Ensure that this person carries out the duties of educating faculty, students, and staff concerning their rights, their responsibilities, and the requirements of Title IX. The Title IX coordinator or some other person also could be charged with developing and implementing programs that promote educational equity. Institutions also should provide adequate staff and financial resources to carry out these important tasks. In many colleges and universities, the Title IX/equity coordinator could work closely with a committee, task force, or commission on the status of women.
  • Inform all students and employees of the person(s) responsible for Title IX compliance. Include the name(s), office address(es), and telephone number(s).
  • Adopt and publish Title IX grievance procedures for both student and employee complaints, including complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Develop specific and continuing strategies to ensure that everyone in the institution knows about your policy of non–discrimination. Groups to notify about the policy include admission and recruitment personnel and representatives (both students and employees), applicants for admission and employment, students, employees, sources of referral of applicants for admission and employment, and unions or professional organizations holding collective bargaining or professional agreements with the institution. Your policy should also inform people that inquiries about Title IX can be referred to the designated Title IX person or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC 20201–2516.
  • Ensure that the notice of non–discrimination is prominently placed in each announcement, bulletin, catalogue or application form used in connection with students or employees as well as in recruiting students and employees. (Colleges recruiting athletes should be sure that this notification appears in materials sent to prospective athletes.)
  • Ensure that all programs facilitated by the institution do not discriminate on the basis of sex. For example, the institution must develop and implement a procedure to assure that programs it does not operate but requires or otherwise considers a part of its programming, such as co–op placements sponsored by professional organizations or internships, are non–discriminatory. Institutions also should take reasonable steps to ensure that housing opportunities it does not provide directly––but which it solicits, lists, approves, or helps make available– are provided in a non––discriminatory manner. This means that housing must be proportionate in quantity and comparable in quality and cost for students of both genders.
  • Ensure than any agency, organization, or person who receives assistance from the institution for the purpose of making employment available to students does so without discriminating on the basis of sex.
  • Develop and use internal procedures for ensuring that student counseling and appraisal materials do not discriminate on the basis of sex.
  • Take action to ensure that classes that are disproportionately represented by one gender are not the result of sex discrimination in counseling or appraisal materials, in the use of these materials, or by academic or guidance counselors.
  • Develop and implement procedures to ensure overall non–discrimination in disbursement of financial aid, if the institution provides any single–sex financial assistance established by wills, bequests, or similar legal instruments. If financial aid is given to athletes, provide 'reasonable opportunities' for athletic scholarships and grants–in–aid for each sex in proportion to the number of each sex participating in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Ensure that any separate class, activity or program offered to pregnant students is comparable to those offered to non–pregnant students.
As stated previously, this list is not exhaustive; there are many more strategies that will help move the nation toward gender equity. In addition, students, parents, and educators have an important role to play in ensuring that educational institutions live up to their obligations under the law. These communities should determine the steps they will take to help the nation make the grade for gender equity in education in the next 25 years and beyond.


  • 34 C.F.R. Sec. 106.1 et seq.
  • Julie K. Ehrhart and Bernice R. Sandler, National Association for Women in Education, Washington, DC. Examines gang rapes and contains more than 100 recommendations for preventing and dealing with sexual assault (including but not limited to gang rape). Although aimed at colleges, many of the recommendations will also be appropriate for high school programs and policies.
  • Martha J. Langelan, Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers (Simon and Schuster, 1993). Describes many strategies for women and girls on dealing with sexual harassment when it occurs, whether in the playground, at work, or on the street. Very useful for students at all levels and those working with them.
  • Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, Federal Register, March 13, 1997, Vol. 62, Number 49. Copies can be obtained by calling or writing the U.S. Department of Education or your Senator or Representative in Congress.


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