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.

Study: Teachers go soft on minority students’ work

After reading a poorly written essay, teachers offered comments and advice. Those who thought the writer was black or Latino provided more praise and less criticism, according to a Rutgers study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology (JEP), reports Science Daily.

(The study) involved 113 white middle school and high school teachers in two public school districts located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, one middle class and white, and the other more working class and racially mixed.

“Many minority students might not be getting input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” said Kent Harber, Rutgers-Newark psychology professor.

George W. Bush called it “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Study: Teachers think white girls can’t do math

High school teachers think white girls can’t do math, concludes a University of Texas study.  “Even with the same grades and the same test scores, the teachers are still ranking the girls as less good at math than the boys,” says Catherine Riegle-Crumb, co-author of the bias study. By contrast, teachers’ perceptions of minority students’ math abilities matched their achievement.


Counseling student can sue university

A conservative Christian, Julea Ward was expelled from a master’s program in counseling because she referred a gay client who wanted to discuss his orientation to another counselor. Ward said she couldn’t be supportive.  When Eastern Michigan University kicked her out of the program for anti-gay bias, she sued, charging religious bias and infringement of her free-speech rights. Ward’s suit was revived by a federal appeals court, which threw out a summary judgment, reports Education Week.

“Although the university submits it dismissed Ward from the program because her request for a referral violated the ACA code of ethics, a reasonable jury could find otherwise — that the code of ethics contains no such bar and that the university deployed it as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech,” Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton wrote for the panel. “What exactly did Ward do wrong in making the referral request?” Sutton added. “If one thing is clear after three years of classes, it is that Ward is acutely aware of her own values. The point of the referral request was to avoid imposing her values on gay and lesbian clients.”

If a counselor disapproved of my lifestyle or beliefs, I’d prefer a referral to a pretense of support.

Ruling: Ethnic studies classes break Arizona law

Tucson schools must drop Mexican-American Studies or lose 10 percent of state funding, ruled an administrative law judge, who found the ethnic classes violate Arizona law. The 2010 law bans courses that are “designed for a specific ethnic group” or advocate “ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” It also bans fanning “racial resentment.”

Ignoring the history of  “oppression and racism” will promote resentment, a school district witness testified. But Judge Lewis Kowal found the classes went beyond “teaching oppression objectively” to “actively presenting material in a biased, political, and emotionally charged manner.”

“Teaching in such a manner promotes social or political activism against the white people, promotes racial resentment, and advocates ethnic solidarity, instead of treating pupils as individuals,” Kowal wrote. He cited a lesson that taught students that the historic treatment of Mexican-Americans was “marked by the use of force, fraud and exploitation,” and a parent’s complaint that one of her daughters, who was white, was shunned by Latino classmates after a government course was taught “in an extremely biased manner.”

A group of teachers are challenging the law in federal court, arguing it was motivated by “a racial bias and anti-Hispanic beliefs and sentiments.”

Muslim students force out religion prof

Muslim students disrupted a world religion class and told classmates to be “scared,”  says the adjunct professor, who resigned in protest when Tarrant County College officials sided with two Muslims in the class. A Baptist, Paul Derengowski is biased against Islam — and most other religions.

Also on Community College Spotlight: There are well-paid, blue-collar jobs out there, but Joe Six-Pack needs training and skills to qualify.

Study: Women scientists don’t face bias

Women’s choices — not male bias — explain why so few women advance in science careers, concludes a study by Cornell researchers Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The focus on “sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort,” they argue. “Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.”

Looking at two decades of data, the researchers found that women scientists are more likely than men to step off the career track.

This situation is caused mainly by women’s choices, both freely made and constrained by biology and society, such as choices to defer careers to raise children, follow spouses’ career moves, care for elderly parents, limit job searches geographically, and enhance work-home balance.

Family-friendly policies, such as the option to work part-time and delay the tenure clock, could help women advance in science careers, they write.

Ceci and Williams are married to each other and have three daughters, notes Lisa Belkin in the New York Times.

She links to an interview with Dr. Janet Davison Rowley, now 85, “the matriarch of modern cancer genetics.”  The mother of four, Dr. Rowley worked part-time until her youngest child was 12.

Happy conservatives on liberal campuses

Conservative students can be happy on a liberal campus, concludes a study presented at the American Sociological Association and reported by Inside Higher Ed. UC-San Diego Sociology Professor Amy J. Binder and Kate Wood, a graduate student, interviewed open and closet conservatives at an elite Eastern private college and a large Western public university.  In both cases, conservatives were a small minority on campus.

At the private college, conservatives “viewed the experience of being in the minority as a positive one” in teaching them to examine and defend their beliefs, Wood said. By contrast,  many conservatives at the public university said they were the victims of bias by classmates and professors.

The  private college conservatives “felt that they had very close relationships with faculty members with whom they disagreed on politics.” Conservatives avoided only a few courses, such as “critical gender studies.”

Much of this related to “very small class size” and to a sense that all students and faculty members were part of a common community, and wanted to disagree with one another respectfully. As a result, Wood said, while the conservative students generally said that they didn’t hold back their views, they didn’t describe going to class looking for a fight — and they talked about wanting to disagree with professors in respectful ways, since they felt treated with respect.

At the Western public university, which had larger classes and less faculty-student interaction, students said they didn’t know their professors well.  Conservative students talked about “trying to get in fights” with professors in class, of “trying to catch their professors in the act of liberal indoctrination.”

What does Texas want?

Texas’ newly approved social studies standards swing to the right to counter perceived liberal bias, writes the Washington Post.

The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated — something most historians deny — draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses, say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty, and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.

Not true, writes Ann Althouse, who links to the text of the standards.

The students are required to “describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government…” . . . One can be informed of the reality of what the Venona Papers revealed about communist infiltration into the U.S. government and still understand and deplore the excesses of “McCarthyism.”

Students are required to “analyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address,” Althouse quotes.  “Analyze” is the key word.

On the United Nations and American sovereignty:

What I’m seeing is “explain the significance of the League of Nations and the United Nations” and “analyze the human and physical factors that influence the power to control territory, create conflict/war, and impact international political relations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), or the control of resources.” Where is the language that can be paraphrased “imperil American sovereignty”?

On the “long list of Confederate officials” students must learn:

Students are required to “explain the roles played by significant individuals and heroes during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar.” Only Davis and Lee were Confederate officials! There is also this: “describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo [in the Civil Rights Era].” That’s obviously not from the Civil War, but I can see why it’s annoying to Democrats.

I’m always queasy about standards that go into excruciating detail about what to teach, often falling victim to “mentionism.” But Althouse’s critique of the Post’s analysis is devastating: You can’t pan the standards without referring to what the standards actually say.

Update: Althouse has updated her post to concede that last-minute changes to the Texas standards — mentioned in an earlier Post story – did require students to be taught a list of Confederate generals and about how international groups threaten U.S. sovereignty. Those changes were not posted on the Texas board of education web site.

Test graders show bias

In a study in India, teachers hired as test graders gave higher scores when the student was identified as high caste, lower scores to low-caste students, reports Inside School Research.

The Harvard study tested elementary and middle-school students in mathematics, language and art.

The tests, however, were randomly assigned different student characteristics. One student, for instance, would be listed on a cover sheet as a member of the Brahmin caste, the highest of India’s four social groups, while another might be described as being in the lowest caste, the Shudra. The tests were also graded separately by a research staff member who had no knowledge of any of the students’ characteristics.

As might be expected, the results showed that teachers, on average, assigned scores to students from low castes that were 3 percent to 9 percent lower than those of students who were described as being from a high-caste group. What was particularly interesting, though, was that teachers from low-caste groups were driving most of that discrimination; no evidence of bias could be found for teachers from high-caste groups. And they tended to direct it most often toward the lowest-performing students in the low-caste group—the students who presumably best fit the stereotype.

Gender didn’t influence grades, except for “the highest-performing girls, who were graded slightly more harshly than their high-performing male counterparts,” writes Debbie Viadero.