Title IX and Affirmative Action
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 describes the federal commitment to equal gender treatment where the federal government provides financial assistance:
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....
Title IX was authored by U.S. Representatives Edith Green (Oregon) and Patsy Mink (Hawaii). As a result of the passage of Title IX in 1972, the role of women and girls in education has changed substantially. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment in educational institutions receiving federal funds. The act prohibits discrimination in recruitment, educational programs, activities, financial aid, counseling, athletics, employment assistance, and other school functions.
The reforms instituted by Title IX have restructured our society, bringing significant changes to women’s participation in the workforce and in athletics.
Affirmative action programs and Title IX enforcement have been effective in promoting women in careers and in breaking down traditional rigid gender roles in many universities. Currently, college-bound students benefit from changing work opportunities and the victories of the feminist movement. There are now more women doctors, lawyers, elected officials, and college professors than ever before. In 2006, women received 50 percent of medical degrees compared with 9 percent in 1972, 49 percent of law degrees compared with 7 percent in 1972, and almost 50 percent of all doctoral degrees compared with 25 percent in 1977. Women now make up the majority of the students in U.S. colleges and universities and the majority of recipients of master’s degrees (Musil, 2007). In the 110th Congress (2007–2008), women held 16 percent of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and 17 percent of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Women’s studies, apprenticeship programs, and mentoring have opened important new opportunities. Special programs provide additional counseling and encouragement for Latinas and African American women to attend college (Ginorio & Huston, 2001). Well-educated young women are choosing careers as doctors, attorneys, and politicians. As yet, however, the benefits and advantages of the feminist revolution of the 1970s are less apparent in the school lives and career opportunities of the 50 percent of female high school graduates who do not go on to college.
In spite of Title IX, tracking remains an issue. We still see female students overtracked to classes in cosmetology, whereas boys take advanced computer and information technology programs (Gaines, 2002; Oakes & Saunders, 2007).
Many school districts now provide continuing education through alternative schools for the increasing number of pregnant middle school and high school students. It is particularly important that these students receive the quality academic and technology preparation necessary to give them an equal chance at success in the world of work (National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 2002).
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