Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and George Allen, R-Va., joined several women scientists and engineers at a May 11 media event on Capitol Hill to voice support for federal efforts to make sure that girls and women have equal opportunities to enter those professions and math-related fields.
The senators were the recipients of a letter signed by more than 6,000 scientists, engineers, and mathematicians that asks them and other members of Congress to embark on a “broad-ranging inquiry” on ways to increase opportunities in math and science professions for women. That issue gained renewed attention earlier this year after Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers made remarks that questioned the “intrinsic aptitude” of female students in math and science. (“Educators Revisit Girls’ Loss of Math, Science Interest,” May 4, 2005.)
The senators could seek hearings in Congress, said Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for Sen. Wyden. In a statement, Mr. Wyden said he spoke last week with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings about increasing compliance reviews under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at federally funded educational institutions, at several science-related federal agencies.