Women and the Law: Women in Education
Title IX bans discrimination in schools that accept federal funding.
What laws guarantee
women's and girls' equal access to education?
Answer Title IX of the Educational Amendments, passed in 1972, is the primary law ensuring equality in public education. The law provides that "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 applies to public and private schools that receive federal financial assistance, from kindergarten through graduate schools. It outlaws discrimination based on gender in the areas of admissions, recruitment, course offerings and access, counseling, educational programs and access, employment assistance, financial aid, facilities and housing, health and insurance benefits and services, scholarships and athletics. Title IX prohibits discriminatory practices such as sexual harassment and disparate treatment of students, faculty or employees based on marital or parental status. The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution also applies to public schools and institutions of higher learning.Sources: 20 U.S.C. Section 1681; Valentin, Iram, Title IX: A Brief History, Women Educational Equity Act Publishing Center, Title IX Digest; WEEA Publishing Center, Gender Equity for Educators, Parents and Community, 1995
Does Title IX apply to all departments of an educational institution?
Answer In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court in Grove City College v. Bell ruled that Title IX applied to only those programs that directly received federal funding. The Civil Rights Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1988, however, expanded the definition of "program" broadly enough to make Title IX applicable to the entire institution.Source: 29 U.S.C. Section 794; WEEA Digest: "Title IX: A Brief History"
What impact has Title IX had upon education in America?
Answer In the 26 years that it has been in effect, Title IX has dramatically altered the educational landscape in America.
Before Title IX
- Many schools and universities had separate entrances for male and female students.
- Female students were not allowed to take certain courses, such as auto mechanics or criminal justice; male students could not take home economics.
- Most medical and law schools limited the number of women admitted to 15 or fewer per school.
- Female teachers frequently were required to resign from their jobs or take unpaid leave when they were pregnant.
- Many colleges and universities required women to have higher test scores and better grades than male applicants to gain admission.
- Women living on campus were not allowed to stay out past midnight, or were required to live on campus while men were permitted to live elsewhere.
- Women faculty members were excluded from faculty clubs and encouraged to join faculty wives' clubs instead.
- After winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, swimmer Donna de Varona could not obtain a college swimming scholarship -- they did not exist for women.
After Title IX
- The number of female high school graduates who went on to college grew from 43 percent in 1973 to 63 percent in 1994. Women now make up the majority of college and university students and recipients of master's degrees.
- In 1971, 18 percent of young women and 26 percent of young men had completed four years or more of college; in 1994, 27 percent of both men and women earned bachelor's degrees.
- The number of women receiving medical degrees grew from nine percent in 1972 to 38 percent in 1994.
- The number of women earning law degrees grew six-fold, from seven percent in 1972 to 43 percent in 1994. Female doctoral recipients grew from 25 percent in 1977 to 44 percent in 1994.
- Today, more than 100,000 women participate in intercollegiate athletics, a four-fold increase from 1971.
- The number of high school girls participating in athletics grew from 300,000 in 1971 (7.5 percent) to 2.4 million in 1996 (39 percent).
- From 1980-90, the dropout rate for pregnant students declined 30 percent.
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