Today is the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, which was intended to provide equal educational opportunities to students of all genders. The law was a great step towards achieving gender equality in education, as federally funded institutions were barred from the then-common practice of preventing students from participating in classes and programs that didn’t fit their traditional gender roles. However, Title IX has fallen far short of its goal of educational equality. While courses of study are no longer officially reserved for specific genders, enrollment statistics clearly indicate that women are being directed away from certain fields. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women earn less than one fifth of the bachelor’s and graduate degrees in engineering and computer science, despite earning well over half of the higher educational degrees awarded each year. A prevailing attitude about this discrepancy is that women simply do not do not want to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Below is a link to the story of Zoe Shipley, a high school student whose experiences in her automotive technology program challenge this attitude. Her story demonstrates the discrimination from peers and teachers that female students in male-dominated fields often face. Female students are also often challenged with a lack of role models, since females make up a small portion of the science, technology, engineering and math faculty in our colleges and universities. The obstacles that women face in entering careers in science, technology, math and engineering are especially disturbing given the fact that jobs in these fields are often some of the most secure and lucrative positions available. Women’s under representation in these fields thus perpetuates the tradition of encouraging women to be financially dependent.
As the effects of Title IX have shown, discrimination and sexism cannot be eradicated through the legal system alone. Title IX has not provided true equality, but rather the opportunity to work towards it. The educational inequality that women face lies no longer in clear, institutional limitations but in the attitudes and mentalities of peers, educators, employers, and society as a whole. The task of freeing our educational system from sexism has fallen upon the efforts of women like Ms. Shipley, who are using the possibilities provided by Title IX to challenge the attitudes and institutions that necessitated its creation.
This morning I woke up to a fabulous post by Rob Delaney in my twitter feed that began:
The New York Post published an interview with Adam Carolla on Sunday in which he said, among other things, “dudes are funnier than chicks,” and, regarding writing for television, “they make you hire a certain number of chicks, and they’re always the least funny on the writing staff.”
I disagree, and I know what I’m talking about.
He went on (and I strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety) to detail the invaluable part women play in comedy, and suggests many very funny women to follow.
Gender inequality is EVERYWHERE – kudos to those who speak out against it!
Read the whole post here:
This past year has been a lot of work, a lot of stress, and a lot of fun. Building XYG from the ground up was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to work with Mica, Mike, Tim, Tony and Jill to build a safe, friendly environment to talk about the myriad of issues surrounding gender.
The genesis of XYG can be traced to Jill Ennis’ Gender and Communication class, where Emma and I, with the encouragement of Jill and several of our classmates, began to talk about a group where we could get a little bit deeper into and speak more candidly about some of the issues we touched on in class. We also saw the opportunity to address some issues that we had seen on the OCC campus.
Emma and I have both repeatedly suffered sexual harassment, objectification and general boorishness on campus (as I imagine all women have), and after an incident (unbelievably) in our Gender and Communication class – during the sexual harassment unit! – we decided there must be something we could do. While we were obviously angry and upset, we wondered why it had happened at all.
The question we were really asking is, “What about the way our society works allows you to impose these vulgar ideations on us, your classmates that you know personally?” Or, more generally: who says you can be so damn disgusting towards women?
But while this particular incident was the catalyst I do not mean to point the finger at men. Sexism is two sided. Men are in many ways required to make these comments just as much as women are required to ignore them. Men face pressure to perform these male rituals as much as women are expected to shave their legs and wear make up. Humans perform for each other, and in our current patriarchal society, these are the traditional roles. But perfect masculinity is just as hard to attain (and for many men, simply undesirable) as perfect femininity can be for women.
It is this duality that truly interested me – as an ardent feminist, I must not ignore the fact that many men feel displaced and uncomfortable by women gaining power and autonomy. I cannot ignore that changing the archetype of woman will also change that of man. There are not very many positive models for, for instance, the single father. The stay-at-home dad. The househusband. Even more importantly, there are hardly any models of functional partnerships in which the man and women participate equally in the house keeping, child-rearing and money making.
I believe that this societal displacement men are suffering is the source of a lot of the strident anti-woman rhetorical (and legislative!!) backlash. Feminism must begin to accept and work with men before it can move forward. We can become allies instead of enemies.
Although XYG does not call itself a feminist group, several of the members (male and female) do identify as feminist. We also have members that identify as men’s rights activists. Even in our meager beginnings, by the nature of our mission statement, we were able to include nearly every facet of race, gender, sexuality, etc. and that is what will, as we go forward, make a meaningful dialogue (amongst ourselves as a group and with the greater community as well) possible.
I am thrilled to turn over my post as President to Mica, whose enthusiasm and dedication will carry XYG into the coming years. Mike also continues as our Treasurer (Officer of Snacks), and we welcome Emma to her rightful place as VP (Community Engagement Officer). Tim and I will both be satellite members, and hope to contribute in a meaningful way as XYG blog correspondents.
When Emma and I first began talking about a gender studies club at OCC, we wanted it to be a place that we could learn more about the way gender affects both ourselves and society as a whole. We imagined a sort of reading and discussion group that would hold panels or host speakers to raise awareness and educate about gender related issues. I think it is safe to say we had no idea that our concept would become XYG and that XYG would become the vibrant, accessible and active group that it is proving itself to be!
Thanks for helping to make the Domestic Abuse presentation such a great success!
We’re having a meeting this friday (the last of the semester) Where we will be electing our new officers (we have nominees for every office but Secretary so we will be looking to fill that post – please come if you’re interested). We will also be discussing the presentation and how to improve for next time.
The meeting is during college hour on Friday in W122. Hope to see you there!