Title IX Gains Are Significant But Not Complete, Panel Says

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Washington--Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 has made a substantial contribution to reducing sex discrimination in education, according to a report from a Presidential advisory council released here yesterday.

But although the federal anti-sex-bias law has corrected the "most obvious" discriminatory policies and practices in educational programs, and has improved opportunities for students in the nation's schools, it has been less successful in righting inequities in the employment of women in education, suggests the report of the National Advisory Council of Women's Educational Programs.

The council, established by the Women's Educational Equity Act of 1974, advises federal officials on policies and programs affecting "educational equity" for women and girls.

The report, "Title IX: The Half Full, Half Empty Glass," assesses ''the progress and problems" in achieving equal treatment for the female students and employees of the nation's schools and colleges in the nine years since the legislation went into effect.

The report's release, however, coincides with efforts of the U.S. Education Department and other groups within the Reagan Administration and the Congress to restrict the6scope of or dismantle the law, which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Virtually all public-school systems receive such aid.

The most "visible and dramatic" change in opportunities made available to female students has occurred in athletics.

From 1971 to 1981, the number of female athletes in high schools increased 527 percent, according to the report. The proportion of women students participating in interscholastic high-school sports increased from 7 percent in the 1970-71 school year to 35 percent in 1980-81.

Nonetheless, the report points out, fewer sports are offered to girls, and some schools "prevent or discourage" their participation by spending less money for girls' sports than for boys' sports.

Among other changes cited by the report are:

The number of women enrolled in high school and post-high-school vocational education programs increased 60 percent from 1972 to 1978, while the number of men increased by 32 percent in the same period.

Career and academic counseling is less likely to limit a student's aspirations because of his or her sex. And vocational-interest tests
must be the same for male and female students.

Programs formerly limited to students of one sex, such as home economics and auto mechanics, have been made available to students of both sexes.

Women now receive 22 percent of the athletic scholarships awarded by colleges and universities belonging to the major athletic associations; in 1974, women received 1 percent of these scholarships.

In the area of student health services, however, the report notes that higher education has been quicker than the public schools to eliminate policies that discriminate against pregnant students.

"Many middle schools and high schools continue to discriminate against pregnant students--expelling or suspending them, assigning them to special classes against their will, or excluding them from school activities or honors," the report states.

'Few Comparable Statistics'

But the most salient problem in elementary and secondary education, it asserts, is the "continuing wide gap between [the numbers of] men and women" in administrative positions. Moreover, "comparable statistics" pertaining to women in various jobs "are difficult to find"--a reflection, the report suggests, of women's low status in the profession.

"The very fact that school districts and therefore Federal agencies have not gathered such information over the years indicates that the declining proportion of women in administrative positions was not considered to be a problem," according to the report.

"But surely," it continues, "a drop from 55 percent female elementary-school principals in 1928 to under 20 percent in 1973 was significant both to the women who did not obtain those jobs and to the girls who grew up assuming that only men were principals while most teachers were women."

Current Figures Gloomy

Although many states and professional associations are instituting programs to increase the number of women in administrative ranks, the report characterizes current figures as gloomy. Among them:

In 1974, women held 13 percent of the elementary, junior, and senior high-school principalships; four years later, that figure had increased by only 1 percent.

The same pattern holds for assistant principals. In 1974, 22 percent of the assistant principals were women; by 1978, that figure had increased to 28 percent. For non-teaching assistant principalships, the figure rose from 18.5 percent in 1974 to 22 percent in 1978.

Although "the picture for women as school superintendents has been even more gloomy," according to the report, the increasing number of women receiving Ph.D.'s in educational administration suggests that more women will be prepared to become superintendents.

In 1980, in the approximately 16,000 school districts across the country, there were 154 woman superintendents. Although that figure3amounts to less than 1 percent, the report points out, it represents a more than 100-percent increase from 1974, when there were 65 woman superintendents. This year, the number of women holding such positions was expected to rise to 174.

'Truly Equal Opportunities'

The advisory council's report, which maintains that Title IX, as the primary federal anti-sex-bias law affecting education, has been "the foundation" of efforts to promote "truly equal opportunities" women in education, comes just as the Administration and the Congress are considering limiting the law's reach:

In August, the U.S. Education Department proposed dropping Title IX regulations banning discrimination in the employment practices6of schools and colleges. The effort was rebuffed by the Justice Department, which continues to support the regulations in an upcoming Supreme Court case, North Haven Board of Education v. Bell.

Also in August, the Administration announced that it would review interpretations of Title IX regulations that apply to college-level athletics programs.

And bills introduced in the Senate and the House would, in one case, repeal Title IX, and in another, eliminate schools' employees from Title IX coverage and require that for an educational program to be covered by Title IX it receive federal funds directly. Currently, if a school receives any federal money, from the school-lunch program, for example, it is bound by Title IX regulations.

Vol. 01, Issue 07

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories