Christina Hoff Sommers has a good piece on the subject over at the Washington Post. The push to Title IX the sciences rests on two main points: 1) Title IX has done wonders in the athletic arena and 2) Title IX would make similar advances in science and engineering. Sommers rips both notions to shreds:
“Title IX has had an enormous impact on women’s opportunities and participation in sports.” Indeed, Title IX has contributed to significant progress in women’s athletics — but at what cost to male student athletics? Consider the situation at Washington’s Howard University. In 2007, the Women’s Sports Foundation, a powerful Title IX advocacy group, gave Howard an “F” grade because of its 24-percentage-point “proportionality gap”: Howard’s student body was 67 percent female, but women constituted only 43 percent of its athletic program. In 2002, Howard cut men’s wrestling and baseball and added women’s bowling, but that did little to narrow the gap. Unless it sends almost half of its remaining male athletes to the locker room, Howard will remain blacklisted and legally vulnerable. Former Howard wrestling coach Wade Hughes sums up the problem this way: “The impact of Title IX’s proportionality standard has been disastrous because . . . far more males than females are seeking to take part in athletics.”
Title IX could make “similar striking advances” for women in science and engineering. Indeed it could — but at what cost to science? The idea of imposing Title IX on the sciences began gaining momentum around 2002. Then, women were already earning nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees and at least half of the PhDs in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences and education. Meanwhile, men retained majorities in fields such as physics, computer science and engineering. Badly in need of an advocacy cause just as women were beginning to outnumber men on college campuses, well-funded academic women’s groups alerted their followers that American science education was “hostile” to women. Soon there were conferences, retreats, summits, a massive “Left Out, Left Behind” letter-writing campaign, dozens of studies and a series of congressional hearings. Their first public victim? Larry Summers, who was forced to resign as president of Harvard University in 2006 after he dared to question the groups’ assumptions and drew a correlation between the number of women in the sciences and gender differences implied in math and science test data.