Last week, the Women’s Sports Foundation released a gender equity report card for every institution offering collegiate athletics — basically a grade reflecting how good a job each school is doing in regards to Title IX. The report card is part of a larger study that claims that athletic opportunities have improved for both men and women over the past ten years (a claim that is counter to the recent College Sports Council study that IWF supports). Most of the media coverage has focused on the overall athletic participation levels, but I find the gender equity report card far more interesting for the following reasons:
News stories about Title IX tend to point out that proportionality is not the only way to comply with Title IX — that all three prongs of the three prong compliance test are equally valid. Reality tells a different story. As we’ve noted here at IWF for a long time, there is immense pressure on schools to comply via proportionality (Title IX’s strict gender quotas) because it offers a quantitative measure which provides a legal safe harbor to the schools (who are very fearful of lawsuits related to Title IX). The other paths to compliance have more subjective measures, and thus, are typically viewed as a transitional state leading toward eventual compliance via proportionality. Nevertheless, WSF repeats the claim that alll three prongs are options in their new report.
But what is the only method used to assign schools a grade on the gender equity report card? Proportionality, of course! In reality, groups like WSF love proportionality because of its strict gender quotas. Further evidence of their obsession with proportionality is how they treat the March 2005 policy clarification that attempted to provide quantitative measures to prong three of the compliance test (and thus make it a viable option for schools) by outlining a comprehensive model student survey to gage student interest in athletics (prong three says a school can comply by fully satisfying the interest of the underrepresented sex). In the new report, WSF refers to that model survey as an “unjustified” effort to “weaken” Title IX.
And what about negative proportionality? Take Georgia Tech for example — women make up 27.7 percent of the student body, but make up 36.8 percent of its athletes. If proportionality is the ultimate measure of equality that WSF make it out to be, then having any variance to that number would be bad — whether its for men or women. WSF president Donna Lopiano was upfront about this issue in a recent interview about Tech. She said: “They’re discriminating against men.” That didn’t stop the WSF from giving Tech the highest possible grade on the gender equity score card. Georgia Tech isn’t the only instance where this occurs. In fact the WSF study lists 134 schools with negative proportionality (including my alma mater), and all of them receive the best grade possible: an A. So, not only is “discrimination” against men accepted, it’s encouraged.