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July 18 2011

Watching Out Community Colleges: Title IX Is Coming for You!

Carrie L. Lukas

Title IX, the law that was supposed to prevent discrimination in athletics, has increasingly become a quota system so that colleges and universities need to have their athletic participation mirror the gender breakdown of the school to be safe from the authorities. Since women are now six-in-ten undergrads, that means that they have to be six-in-ten athletes. As we've written before, it's absurd that this logic only works in sports, rather than the countless other extracurricular activities that women dominate. No one cares if no men participate in student government, campus newspapers, or drama clubs, but if a campus has a few more male wrestlers than female soccer plays, it's time to get the feds involved!

If Title IX's logic is out-dated and unnecessary for four-year colleges, it is ridiculous when applied to community colleges. Yet according to this New York Times story, two-year colleges are next up for additional scrutiny for failing to comply with the Title IX quota system that rules the rest of academia.

Students in community colleges are overwhelmingly female (more than two-thirds of students are women-again, no one worries about how this is "out of balance" with the general population) and tend to be older, non-traditional students. Community colleges are an excellent vehicle for people who want additional skills or job training, specific technical degrees, or who want to get back into the educational system after previously dropping out. But they typically do not offer the rah-rah university experience of four-year schools.

Yes, some offer male sports programs, and apparently many of them offer fewer athletic opportunities for women. It's easy to imagine why this is. Men tend to care more about sports (both watching and playing) so having male sports available is probably a good recruiting tool for men. Male teams tend to attract bigger audiences and get more press, which means that money spent on male sports is a little like advertising. Not so much with female sports.

Is this fair from the gender equality perspective? Maybe not, but it's reality.

Women going back to community college-working moms, former high school drop outs, mid-career professionals seeking to gain new skills-seem less likely to be interested in playing sports. This isn't sexist. It's common sense. Moreover, if playing sports is a priority, then would-be women athletes can consider that when deciding what school to choose. After all, higher education is a marketplace.

Community college face big challenges and fill a critical need in our society. Policymakers should let them focus on doing their jobs, rather than worrying about a government-imposed quota system.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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