Thanks to Title IX, universities that don’t have as many female varsity athletes as males have to cut men’s sports teams such as wrestling or water polo, to create parity. Now there’s a move afoot to create parity in physical science and engineering by “Title Nining” science, writes John Tierney in the New York Times. Congress ordered Title IX compliance reviews in 2006.
Despite supposed obstacles like â€œunconscious biasâ€ and a shortage of role models and mentors, women now constitute about half of medical students, 60 percent of biology majors and 70 percent of psychology Ph.D.â€™s. They earn the majority of doctorates in both the life sciences and the social sciences.
Congress hasn’t proposed investigating why there are so few men choosing to pursue psychology doctorates.
(Women) remain a minority in the physical sciences and engineering. Even though their annual share of doctorates in physics has tripled in recent decades, itâ€™s less than 20 percent. Only 10 percent of physics faculty members are women, a ratio that helped prompt an investigation in 2005 by the American Institute of Physics into the possibility of bias.
But the institute found that women with physics degrees go on to doctorates, teaching jobs and tenure at the same rate that men do. The gender gap is a result of earlier decisions. While girls make up nearly half of high school physics students, theyâ€™re less likely than boys to take Advanced Placement courses or go on to a college degree in physics.
Researchers have found women with math and science aptitude don’t make the same choices as men.
â€œCreating equal opportunities for women does not mean that theyâ€™ll choose what men choose in equal numbers,â€ (psychologist Susan) Pinker says. â€œThe freedom to act on oneâ€™s preferences can create a more exaggerated gender split in some fields.â€
If the gender imbalance persists in physics, engineering and computer science, will those departments go the way of men’s wrestling? Or, perhaps, Title IX could be satisfied by creating Women’s Way of Knowing Physics. Trust me, this is not what women scientists want.