AWE Literature Overview

The Application of Title IX to Science and Engineering -- Abstract

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is a law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive Federal funds.  It was a response to unequal access to educational programs for girls.  For thirty years the law was applied as the legal foundation for increasing girls’ access to sports, although the law does not mention sports explicitly.  Its impact on sports is a great civil rights success story having tremendous positive benefits for American society.  Some think it boosted the entry of women into higher education.

The talent crisis in science and engineering (S&E) – especially in engineering and computer science -- and the slow pace of opening S&E professions to women led to the realization that Title IX also provides the legal foundation for accountability in that domain.  Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) requested a General Accountability Office audit of Title IX compliance regarding women in science and engineering.  GAO’s report (2004) strongly recommended more compliance reviews by NASA, NSF, and DOE, which provide billions of dollars in funding to universities.  

A few government compliance reviews were conducted, but generally there is little publicity about compliance reviews.  Professional associations such as the Society of Women Engineers published a position paper endorsing greater compliance review, as did several conference panels and papers.  A workshop funded by NSF developed suggestions for common metrics and reporting by universities.

A pivotal report from the National Academy of Sciences -- Beyond bias and barriers – recommended that a new inter-institutional organization be created to monitor compliance with Title IX, to develop indicators and standards for compliance, and to publicize the issue.  It recommended that Federal agencies have clear guidelines and sanctions. Several Congressional hearings endorsed the report.  Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Co-Chairs of the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus, introduced bills in the 110th and 111th Congresses to mandate many of the recommendations contained in the report.

The hope of people who care about gender diversity in S&E is that Title IX can do as much to increase access and the participation of women in science and engineering as it has for sports. 

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Funded by The National Science Foundation (HRD 0120642 and HRD 0607081)