Title IX in science: Quotas for men?

In its zeal for gender balance in science, technology engineering and math courses, the Education Department could impose quotas on male STEM students by 2013, warns Hans Bader, who once worked for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The White House has promised new Title IX guidelines in STEM fields.

To comply with Title IX, colleges have eliminated men’s sports teams to create a gender balance. “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” President Obama wrote in Newsweek. It’s also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”

By the Title IX model in sports, that means if 60 percent of undergrads are women — common in many colleges and universities — then 60 percent of engineering and physics students must be female.

Gender disparities in college majors reflect the “differing preferences of men and women,” writes Bader.

The fact that engineering departments are filled mostly with men does not mean they discriminate against women anymore than the fact that English departments are filled mostly with women proves that English departments discriminate against men. The arts and humanities have well over 60 percent female students, yet no one seems to view that gender disparity as a sign of sexism against men.

Women gravitate to scientific fields that involve interaction with people, writes Bader.

As The New York Times’ John Tierney noted, “Despite supposed obstacles like “unconscious bias” 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.’s. They earn the majority of doctorates in both the life sciences and the social sciences.” By contrast, “They remain a minority in the physical sciences and engineering,” which deal more with inanimate objects rather than people.

My younger stepdaughter majored in bio-engineering at Cornell, but decided she wanted a career with more human interaction. She’s now a nutritionist, a nearly all-female profession.

It’s hard to believe colleges will be forced to turn away aspiring male engineers because not enough young women could be lured into the field. But perhaps they’ll create new “pink” engineering courses with more talk and less math to create a faux gender balance.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Title IX enforcers to crack down on college English departments.

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  1. Why can’t they just let people study what they want? If they set up STEM quotas, I predict a rise in online STEM degrees with associated apprenticeship programs or some other such setup to become credentialed as an engineer without having to go through the Title IX-afflicted traditional university system.

  2. Bader’s piece reads like platitudinous partisan nonsense. Distortions topped with slippery slope illogic.

    If we ever see a sign that Bader’s parade of horribles has a chance of becoming reality, he won’t have any trouble finding people who will rail against the quotas he imagines. Until then….

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    This is crazy…absolutely crazy…even just thinking about this is unreal…

  4. From the article:

    “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” but also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”

    That sounds pretty clear to me. We need to dis-elect this guy; stuff like this is just madness.

    • Bader is spouting madness, but he’s not up for election – he works for an organization that is dedicated to spreading narratives favorable to industries like big tobacco.

      • SuperSub says:

        The article offers direct quotes from the President… if the idea is “madness,” then its not Bader that needs the psych eval.

        • I should have appended the note, “Insert smiley here for the sarcasm impaired.’

          In any event, Bader’s partisan drivel tells us little about anything other than (a) Bader and (b) the desperation of those who dislike the President – if you have something solid to grab onto, you don’t need fabricated nonsense from people like Bader.

          • SuperSub says:

            Again, how are quotes from the President himself “fabricated nonsense?”

            You say that you intended your post to be sarcastic, which usually indicates that you believe the opposite of what you said. For example, if my wife asks me if I want to go shopping for new drapes, I will often sarcastically say “there’s nothing I’d rather do,” when I actually feel the opposite.
            Does that mean that you actually agree with Bader’s concerns? If so, then you have my sincerest apology for questioning your logic.

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    If they (meaning regulators and universities) do it for sciences, but not for English, Education, and Psych/Sociology, there will be a lawsuit, and that lawsuit will be successful, even with the most liberal jurists on the bench.

    Now it’s time to go out on a limb and predict:

    I PREDICT… that from the very first time a male student is denied entry to a STEM program (if that ever happens, something I find unlikely despite the talk about it), a Circuit Court issues a decision severely limiting Title IX’s scope within 32 months.

    I PREDICT… that two more circuit decisions agreeing come out within 18 months after that.

    • SuperSub says:

      The “quotas” won’t be anywhere as blatant as in sports… instead I see the feds blackmailing schools with some sort of new funding scheme with grants tied to gender numbers.

      • I agree, it will be much more subtle than sports.

        • So subtle that the quotas won’t even exist, perhaps?

          • Mark Neil says:

            It amazes me that some people can see women choose to stay home to raise their children for several years while her husband or the state supports them as some kind of discrimination against women, but the discrimination clearly evident in this kind of application of title IX is completely above their heads. It demonstrates quite succinctly how one sided and uninterested in equality the left really is.

  6. My almost 10 y.o. is now saying that she either wants to be a computer programmer when she grows up or a speech pathologist. While I am thrilled that she is into learning programming, I have warned her that SLP is a much more family-friendly career path. If STEM fields want to be more attractive to women, they are going to need to deal with the reality that many (if not most) women aren’t interested in working 60-80+ hour weeks on a regular basis as is standard in tech jobs.

    • CC instructors and university adjunct pools include a lot of women who studied in STEM fields and decided that teaching was the best way to use their degree while raising a family. A lot of us are married to STEM guys and its hard to ‘hold down the fort’ if nobody is ever home.

    • Long weeks in tech jobs are mostly a “feature” of startups (and not all of them). I haven’t worked a 60 hour week in ten years. Good managers realize that burning people out (which long hours do, if continued for any length of time), is just a waste.

      • My husband is in computing but has never worked for a startup – we know lots of people in jobs at national labs and major companies (dell, intel, cray, etc) who do similar work. Those guys travel all the time – M-F, 2-3 weeks/month. I can’t speak to the number of hours they all work (as best I can tell, it’s a lot when they’re gone). but the travel alone makes family life chaotic. I can’t imagine what would be involved if both parents had similar schedules.

      • Crimson Wife says:

        While startups seem to be among the worst offenders, we know lots of engineers working for big-name established companies who routinely have to work 60-80+ hours/week. Maybe it’s a Silicon Valley thing?

    • Would you give the same warning if she were a 10 year old boy?

  7. Anne Clark says:

    To quote the NASA guidance on Title IX self-assessments:

    “It should be noted that the statistical analysis described above is not intended to make the case for specific numbers of male and female students, e.g., “quotas.” ”

    What a complete waste of time it is to even rebut the nonsense you post.

    And what an insult it is to suggest that increasing outreach to female students means universities will “create new “pink” engineering courses with more talk and less math”.

    Unbelievable nonsense. Who can take anything you write seriously after this post?

    • Ze'ev Wurman says:

      If the government creates a pitch for a quota-like system, and bases it on a law that evaluates government funds recipients by statistical outcomes rather than incentives, why should anyone believe the government when it then says “but it is not a quota”? Just because they say so? You were either born yesterday, or you think that we were.

    • SuperSub says:

      Well, schools already have aggressive outreach programs in place to attract teenage girls to STEM fields, and from one of the Ivy recruiters I talked to when I entered college, high achieving girls are pretty much guaranteed acceptance into any STEM major. Yet the gender imbalance remains, and our President has stated that he wants to use Title IX to increase enrollment. The same President has shown a preference for tying federal funds to compliance for his initiatives.
      Is is too far fetched that he envisions a program to artificially manipulate the enrollment of students into STEM majors?

      • Anne Clark says:

        “Is is too far fetched that he envisions a program to artificially manipulate the enrollment of students into STEM majors?”

        OK sketch this program out. How does it work?

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          I suppose you could ask the same question, skeptically, before T-9 got into the university sports program.
          The way it goes is somebody makes a suggestion as to how this will work, you say that’s ridiculous and the argument’s over. Then, when the reality hits, you say, Too late, chump. Nothing you’re going to do about it now.
          Well, let’s see. We already have gender-normed physical requirements for military, police, and firefighter occupations. We have race-normed aptitude tests. We have AA bonus points for favored groups.
          So the tools for pinking up STEM exist.
          Then there was the “dear colleague” letter to colleges from the Dept of Ed explaining that you have a nice university there, shame if something were to happen to it and by the way, due process for men accused of sexual harassment is unacceptable. You need preponderance of evidence and confronting one’s accuser is an intolerable burden on the woman.

          You really think it’s a smart idea to ask how this is going to work?

        • SuperSub says:

          I can’t sketch it out, and likely any elected representatives won’t be able to prior to voting… they’ll be able to read about the details after voting for it…

          That’s the funny thing about our current system of policy and laws… the vote occurs before all the details are worked out. Heck, the IRS is in a frenzy right now figuring out how to make the ACA, aka Obamacare, actually work.

          But we can look at current Title IX enforcement for clues, with athletics being the best-fleshed out area of Title IX regulations. It has also survived numerous legal challenges, and would be able to act as precedent for future development of Title IX.

  8. If women aren’t going into STEM fields of their own free will, then they still won’t go with even more incentives. There’s only so much you can do before you begin to gut the programs and make them worthless. If you have no interest in the things that make up the core of a STEM field, then you will never enjoy it. This is basic logic.

    The whole “gender bias” claim is bogus as well. This isn’t the 1950’s. Women really have no excuse and if you’re willing to let your gender stand in the way of doing what you believe is your passion, then you probably don’t need to be in the field in the first place.