Happy Birthday Title IX!
I came home pretty fired up the other night. A few days ago I attended a panel on Title IX legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in any programs that receive federal funding. This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the legislation being passed, and while many organizations were holding celebrations of the law that was aimed at helping to increase opportunities for women, this panel was not meant to celebrate but rather to discuss both sides of Title IX, the good and the bad.
Now, as a former female NCAA athlete, and a woman trying to find a good paying job in general, I was skeptical of how exactly there could be a bad side to Title IX. The legislation is most often associated with providing more opportunities for women to participate in athletics at the high school and collegiate levels. But the truth is that it covers so much more than that. Title IX can be applied to the STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) fields, sexual harassment, policies toward pregnant women and career or vocational training.
Not only does this legislation apply to such a broad range of programs, but if you take a look at the wording of the law itself, it is gender neutral, meaning it is also protecting men and boys against discrimination as well. To me it seems like a positive move for society. Including more women in the workforce and academia would help bring more ideas and innovations to the table, I would think.
But there are many who disagree with me, men and women alike. Arguments against Title IX as presented in this panel discussion included points that men’s sports and jobs were suffering due to the extra attention the law excuses for women, and also that there is not enough proof (according to this argument numbers don’t cut it) that sexual discrimination exists for there to be a law prohibiting it.
I can see where people are coming from with the first point, as some schools elect to cut men’s teams to even out the proportion with women’s teams and find compliance with Title IX. However, this is not required action within the law. There are other ways, such as adding more women’s teams, to comply.
The second argument is where the fire starts building. I literally just had a conversation with my grandmother last weekend about how she couldn’t buy a car by herself when she was first married or how she couldn’t hold a credit card in her own name. How can we not call that sex discrimination? And how can we totally ignore the numbers.
You can’t try and tell me the majority women just elected to be teachers, nurses and secretaries and none had any desire to work in the STEM fields. That seems a bit illogical to me considering women come with just as much of a variety of interests as men. Maybe many felt pushed into those vocations due to societal pressures, but doesn’t society and culture often times need a little push when there is clearly an imbalance. Or should we have just been satisfied with the few roles that were allowed to fill. To me that’s not what this society is built on, there’s always the time to push forward and improve. And how could society itself improve without the equal contribution of female portion of the population?
So as you can see, the debate over Title IX strikes a chord with me. And I suppose we are all entitled to our own opinions on the legislation. Debate or celebrate? That’s up to you.
Image from http://www.pvpride.blog.pvc.maricopa.edu/2012/06/13/landmark-title-ix-legislation-helped-women-pursue-their-dreams/